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J. 




ai E) RAR.Y 

OF THE 
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Of ILLINOIS 

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P775c 

V.I 



CLARE ABBEY; 



TRIALS OF YOUTH. 

BY THE AUTHOR OF 

THE DISCIPLINE OF LIFE, ETC. 



Awed and dazzled, bending 1 confess, 
Life may have nobler ends than happiness. 

Kino Arthur. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. L 



LOiNJ)ON: 
COLBURN AND CO., PUBLISHERS, 

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STRKET. 
i8r)l. 



L ON HON : 
•KIN'TED BV WM. TYI.KR, ItOI.T-CC.UWT. 



4^ 



Pnnsc 



LIFE. 



I made a posy while the day ran by ; 

Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie 
My life within this band ; 
. But Time did beckon to the flowers, and they 

■^55^ By noon most cunningly did steal away, 

(^ And wither' d in my hand. 

'^ My hand was next to them, and then, my heart; 

5 I took without more thinking in good part 

w Time's gentle admonition, 

Which did so sweetly Death's sad taste convey, 
Making my mind to smell my fatal day. 
Yet sugaring the suspicion. 

Farewell, dear flowers ! sweetly your time ye spent, 
Fit while ye lived for health and ornament, 

>Y And after death for cures ; 

I follow straight, without complaint or grief, 

^ Since if my scent be good, I care not if 

^ It be as short as yours. 



George Herbert. 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2009 witin funding from 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 



http://www.archive.org/details/clareabbeyortria01pons 



CLARE ABBEY; 

OR, 

THE TRIALS OF YOUTH. 



CHAPTER I. 

Our feelings and our thoughts 
Tend ever on, and rest not in the present. 
As drops of rain fall into some dark well, 
And from below comes a scarce audible sound ; 
So fall our thoughts into the dark hereafter, 
And their mysterious echo reaches us. 

The Spanish Student. 

"Mamma! are you busy?" inquired a 
little boy, sliding down from his chair, and 
approaching his mother's seat with a pencil 
in his hand. 

Mrs. De Grey laid down her book. " Is 
that unfortunate point broken again?" she 
said, with a smile. 

VOL. I. B 



2 CLARE ABBEY. 

"Oh, no ! mamma, it was not that ; but if 
you are not busy, I want to speak to you. 
I have something very particular to say." 

The child was only six years old, but 
from his appearance you would have sup- 
posed him to be older. His dress, the open 
jacket and waistcoat (although the bieauti- 
fully plaited frills of his falling collar be- 
spoke a nurse's fanciful care), was the dress 
of a boy ; his brown hair curled close round 
his head, and the fresh and blooming grace 
of his childhood was animated by an ex- 
pression so resolute, so boyish, even so 
manly, that you would already have dig- 
nified his beauty with the manly epithet of 
handsome. 

"What a little king!" was the hourly 
exclamation of his old nurse, as the child 
left the nursery, terrifying her by his jumps 
down the stairs ; or when her keen glances 
caught sight of his youthful limbs peril- 
ously perched on the topmost boughs of 
the old fir trees that surrounded the house ; 
and when you heard the exclamation you 
were inclined to agree with her.. 



CLAKE ABBEY. 6 

Of Mrs. De Grey more will be said here- 
after. Now, only let my readers picture 
her as one not young in years, and having 
in her appearance other marks than those 
of time alone. 

Struck by the seriousness of his coun- 
tenance, the mother drew her son towards 
her. 

" AVhat have you got to say, my dear 
boy?" 

" I want to know, mamma, what trade 
I am to be ? " He opened his large blue 
eyes, and fixed them upon her face with 
an expression of intense interest. 

" That is rather a difficult question to 
answer, Ernest," said his mother, smiling. 
" If I were to tell you what I tliink, I am 
afraid you would not understand me." 

" Oh ! yes, I should, mamma. I under- 
stand those sort of things very well. Do 
tell me." 

" Well, then, Ernest, I don't think it will 
be necessary that you should have any trade 
or profession, as it is called. You will have 
something else to do." 
b2 



4 CLARE ABBEY. 

" I thought everybody was something," 
he remarked, with a puzzled and disap- 
pointed air. 

" What is your father, Ernest? " 

The little boy pondered for some minutes. 

" I don't know, mamma, now : but I sup- 
pose he was something when he was young." 

" No ; never a soldier, nor a sailor, nor a 
lawyer, nor a clergyman. He was rich. He 
never had to work for his own living ; all 
that you see about here — this house, and 
the park, and the fields, and the trees, all 
belong to him, — and if you live, Ernest," 
she added, seriously, " I suppose some day 
they will belong to you." 

" But what shall I do then, mamma, when 
I am a man? Shall I do nothing? " 

" I should like you to try and think what 
ought to be the duty of those to whom God 
has given riches. There are only a few in 
the world who need not work for them- 
selves. Perhaps you, my dear boy, will be 
one of those few. Now, tell me what you 
think those few should do? " 

" I suppose, give away all they have got," 



CLARE ABBEY. O 

the child replied ; but he spoke listlessly, 
and as if the subject did not much interest 
him. 

"Not quite that, perhaps, Ernest," she 
said, smiling, " but something of the kind. 
You will not be idle, I hope, though you 
may not need to work for your own living. 
Don't you think you should like to work 
for others ? " 

" Yes, mamma, in some ways very much," 
— but he looked puzzled. 

" We will talk these matters over another 
time ; run back to your drawing now, my 
boy. I don't think you are quite old enough 
yet to understand me." 

The child obeyed, took up his pencil, 
and began to draw without making any fin^- 
ther observation. He was engaged upon a 
battle-scene ; and, however strange in some 
respects the youthful composition might be, 
he certainly had contrived to give a vivid 
picture of the horrors and confusion of a 
field of battle. He now added a few more 
wounded tnen to his heaps of dead and 
dying, and mercilessly condemned them to 



b p CLARE ABBEY. 

be trampled upon by gigantic horses, and 
officers, whose waving plumes were con- 
siderably higher than themselves. 

These new features of horror occupied 
him for about ten minutes. He then again 
laid down his pencil, and gazed at his 
mother. 

'' Mamma, why do all the Leslies have 
trades ? Harry is going to be a sailor, and 
George is to be a clerg^iiian, and Leopold, 
oh ! mamma, do you know, he is going to 
be a soldier? " 

'Mr. Leslie has a great many children, 
my dear Ernest. He means them all to 
work for their own living." 

'' Then, mamma, I wish you had a great 
many children besides me. I wish . . . ." 
The little boy paused, for the names of 
many little brothers and sisters, whom his 
eyes had never seen, crowded upon his me- 
mory. He stopped, sorry and ashamed, and 
seizing his pencil, bent down liis head, to 
conceal his crimson cheeks and startinc^ tears. 

His mother called him to her side, and 
kissed him with her tenderest smile. 



CLARE ABBEY. 7 

" What have you got in your mind to-day, 
Ernest, that I am not to know ? " 

"Oh, mamma!" exclaimed the child, as 
if the words were bursting from his heart, 
" I do so wish to be a soldier. Do you think 
you ever will let me ? I wish it so much, 
so very much." 

A cloud came over his mother's pale 
brow, and she averted her eyes from his 
countenance. He was gazing up into her 
face, with such flashing eyes, such an ardent 
glance, as she remembered to have seen 
once, and but once before. 

" No, Ernest," she replied, at last, gently 
but firmly. 

The little boy stood aghast at the de- 
cision of the reply. This question had for 
months, — it would scarcely be too much to 
say for years, — been agitating his childish 
heart with hope and fear, and had only been 
withheld in dread of the fatal " No," which 
now had been spoken. 

" Never ^ mamma ? " he repeated, after 
gazing at her with open eyes and lips apart. 

" No, Ernest, never, I am sure you would 



8 CLARE ABBEY. 

not wish to make me unhappy ; and it would 
make me more unhappy than I can tell you 
now. You must not set your mind on being 
a soldier." 

" Don't you wish me to be great and 
brave?" asked the child, with something 
of sadness in his voice. 

" Yes, Ernest, 1 do indeed wish you to be 
brave ; but there are many ways of being 
brave, many ways of being a hero. It is 
very great and very good to be a brave 
soldier ; always think so, my dear boy : but 
do you know, there is something quite as 
great, and even better still ? " 

" What, mamma ? " and he gazed eagerly 
at her. 

" Fighting a harder fight than against a 
foreign enemy," she said, smiling ; " con- 
quering our own wishes, our o^vn will. Do 
you understand me, Ernest? " 

" I don't know," the little boy answered, 
sadly. 

" I think you may be something of a hero 
now," she continued, stooping and kissing 
his fair open brow, " if you try to give up 



CLARE ABBEY. 9 

your first great wish, because I ask you to 
do so." 

The child looked in her face for a mo- 
ment without speaking ; then returned to 
his seat, took up his drawing, walked stea- 
dily and resolutely to the fireplace, and 
tore his battle-scene into twenty pieces. 

That same evening, as his old nurse sate 
at work in the outer nursery, she heard a 
sob from the adjoining room, where Ernest 
slept. She took up a candle, and pushing 
open the door, which was just ajar, stole 
softly to his bedside. 

The little boy betrayed his wakefulness, 
by the violent movement with which he 
drew his sheet over his head, and com- 
pletely buried himself beneath it. 

" Mr. Ernest ! " she called gently, again 
and again ; but he remained silent. 

She was not one, however, to be baffled ; 
and, excited and troubled by the unwonted 
sound of weeping from Mr. Ernest, set her- 
self very determinedly to discover "what 
the matter could be." 

She put down her candle and entered 



10 CLAEE ABBEY. 

into conflict with the little vigorous fingers 
that pinned the sheet tightly round his head. 
It was a work of some difficulty, but ex- 
perience conquered at last ; and, although 
the child immediately concealed his face, 
his glowing and tear-stained cheek was not 
to be hidden from her scrutinizing gaze. 

" Why, Mr. Ernest, what is the matter ? " 
she cried. 

" Go away, nurse," he said, peevishly, "I 
don't want you ; I want to go to sleep." 

'' Rut, my dear, I must just settle your 
things, for you have got your sheet all of a 
ruck, and your hand is quite hot. Are you 
ill, my dear? " 

'' No, nurse, not a bit." 

''• Well, to be siu:e, something must be the 
matter. Are you hungry, my dear ? " 

" No, nurse, not a bit," more petulantly. 

'' Then, are you afraid, my dear ? Shall I 
leave the door open? " 

'^No, nurse, not a bit," he cried, with 
vehemence and indignation. 

The old Avoman had her own pecuhar 
acuteness ; she saw that if she pressed upon 



CLARE ABBEY. 11 

tliis String, she should penetrate the mystery 
of his tears. 

" I 'd better leave the door open, I be- 
lieve ; many a one finds it lonesome to be 
in the dark. There, my dear, lay down 
your little head, and you shall see the glim- 
mering of my candle upon the wall, to help 
you to go to sleep." 

" I don't want your candle, nurse. I tell 
you I'm not afraid." 

" Then, what is it, my king? " she said, 
coaxingly. 

" I 'm not such a coward as to be afraid," 
cried the little boy, vehemently. " I was 
thinking .... Oh, nurse ! do you know, 
mamma says that I never, never am to be a 
soldier," and his voice died away in a low 
sob. 

" Bless him ! " remarked the old woman, 
partly in surprise, partly in affection. 

Having conquered his first shame at 
having been found in tears, the little boy 
was ready enough to pour out his griefs. 
" Oh, nurse," he continued, " I have thought 
of it for such a long, long time, and now 



12 CLARE ABBEY. 

it never can be. Mamma says it will make 
her unhappy, and she says I must bear it ; 
and I thought I could bear it, but I can't, I 
can't indeed. Nurse, why should mamma 
be unhappy ? wouldn't she like me to be a 
great, great soldier, like all the people she 
tells me about?" 

" No, Mr. Ernest," replied the old woman 
shaking her head ; " it would go very near 
to break your mamma's heart if you was to 
think of such a thing ; and I will tell you a 
story about it to-morrow." 

" Tell me now, nurse ; do tell me now." 

'' Well then, my dear, you must promise 
to go to sleep as soon as ever I have done, 
and not to cry any more." And she sat 
down on a chair by his bedside. 

" I will try to go to sleep as fast as ever 
I can, nurse, and I don't think I ever shall 
be such a baby as to cry again ; now do 
nurse tell me a nice story." And the child 
fixed his bright wakeful eyes upon her 
face. 

" Well, my dear, it is a great many yeai's 
ago now; but I must tell you first, that when 



CLAEE ABBEY. 13 

your mamma was a little girl, she lived in 
a liappy home with her papa and mamma, 
just as you do now, only that perhaps she 
was a bit happier, for she had a brother 
born the very same day that she was born ; 
such a beautiful merry boy as Mr. Henry 
was, — just such another as you, Mr. Ernest ; 
I often think I sees him come back again 
when I looks at you, my dear; and they 
two was as fond of one another as turtle 
doves, as I heard a lady say. And they 
played about together all the day long, and 
at times Mr. Henry was as gentle as a young 
lady, and at times Miss Gertrude was clam- 
bering about like a little tom-boy. I was 
a girl then, 1 was the nursery-maid Mr. 
Ernest ; and I used to have such work with 
Miss Gertrude at times." And she made 
a pitpng sound as if she recalled the 
black hands and torn frocks of her former 
charge. "Well, my dear, your mamma's 
papa was a great general ; they said he was 
the bravest man in all the king's army, and 
he had been in I don't know how many 
battles, and he was wounded .... but my 



14 CLARE ABBEY. 

dear, how red your cheeks are, and how 
your eyes do sparkle ! I don't know what 
your mamma would say to me for telling 
these tales over-night. Better . . . . " 

" Go on nurse," said the child, raising 
himself on his arms. " I won't go to sleep 
all night, if 3^ou stop ; tell me about these 
battles." 

" Well, well," said the old woman, no- 
thing loth, "just for this onest .... Well, 
my dear, and so at last Miss Gertrude came 
to be a woman." 

" But the battles, nm"se, and the wounds?" 

" We shall come to the battles, Mr. Ernest, 
if you be patient ; and so, as I was saying, 
Miss Gertrude came to be a young lady. 
Sweet seventeen ! oh ! she was a rosebud — 
she was ; — and Mr. Henry he was seven- 
teen too, because they was both born on 
the very same day, — and Mr. Henry was like 
you, Mr. Ernest, and he had set his mind on 
being a soldier, ever since he was a child 
so high, — and the general, he thought there 
was nothing in all the world like the king's 
armies, and he was as readv to make a 



CLARE ABBEY. 15 

soldier of ]\Ir. Henry as Mr. Henry was 
himself; and his mamma too, she thought 
they was noble fellows them military. 
Only Miss Gertrude, the tear was in her 
sweet eye when the thing was settled ; she 
could not a-bear to lose her brother ; and 
I was a bit sad myself; but then he comed 
to see us in his grand dress, and he did 
look like a prince, with his fine feathers 
tossing in the air, and his sword that he 
swung; about, and his brio-ht blue eves 
dancing like the very stars themselves, just 
as yours do now — lay down, my dear, lay 
down .... Well, it's no matter now ; he 
went away and we never see'd him again. 
I dare say you knows about Boney, as we 
called him then ; nobody thought of any- 
thing but Boney ; and he was for taking to 
himself all the kingdoms of the earth as 
they said, and he was for making himself I 
don't know what beside ; but it's no matter 
now, for he's dead and gone with all his 
greatness. Well, at that time there was 
great work in Spain, a country you knows 
about I dare say my dear ; and the Dooke of 



16 CLARE ABBEY. 

Wellington, he were n't a dooke then, he went 
off to the war, and Mr. Henry he went with 
him, and the general too, for all his wounds, 
he went off to the war. Oh ! that was a 
day; I thought Miss Gertrude would have 
broken her heart ; though young Mr. De 
Grey, your papa, my dear, he w^as coming a 
courting even then ; but Mr. Henry he was 
full of fun and spirits to the last ; bless his 
heart ! only just at last, when he kissed 
Miss Gertrude, there was a tear shining in 
his bright eye ; I see'd it myself, but he 
dashed it away and said he know'd he soon 
should see her again ; and so he went off 
to the wars." The old woman stopped and 
wiped away a tear with the corner of her 
apron, and the little boy said nothing but 
gazed more earnestly mto her face. 

" Well, my dear," she began again, " the 
time went by and there came a day at last 
when there was a great victory; it was a 
bloody victory they said ; and we heard 
there was a victory, and we heard that 
many was killed and many was wounded, 
and we feared and feared, and Miss 



CLABE ABBEY. 17 

Gertrude, poor dear, she became as white as 
any pale white rose, and we did not know 
whether they was dead or alive ; and then 
there came the firing for the victory. Oh ! 
how well I remember that night ; how the 
guns shouted in the air so triumphant like, 
and yet so sorrowful, for they was firing 
over a thousand of the dead. Poor Miss 
Gertrude sate so white and so trembling, and 
she held her poor mamma's hand, and she 
never shed a tear, though she knew, as she 
said afterwards, that they was firing over 
her brother's death ; and so they was ; we 
heard all after a bit. The General he was 
wounded, but he came back to us to die ; 
but Mr. Henry he never comed again. They 
said, ' He had died as a young hero should 
die,' them was the words ; ' and he sold his 
life dear, they said, for his country's sake ;' 
and they said, ' Never was a young arm so 
strong, or a young heart so full of bravery,' 
— them was the words ; and so Mr. Henry 
died." 

She paused, and tlie little boy pulled the 
sheet over liis face ; but the next moment 

VOL. I. c 



18 CLARE ABBEY. 

he threw it back,, and looking up, his eyes 
sparkling with tears, he said, "Oh! nurse, 
how I should like to die as Mr. Henry 
died." 

"No, Mr. Ernest, my dear," she said, 
rising from her chair and beginning to 
arrange his disordered bed, "you must not 
die as Mr. Henry died ; your mamma has 
never been herself since that day. Afore 
that she was as merry as a lark ; bless you 
her voice sounded like a bird, as she sang 
about the house ; but I never heard her 
sing since that day ; and my belief is she 
could not abear such a grief again. No, Mr. 
Ernest, you must stay at home and make 
her happy ; won't you, my dear ?" 

The child sighed — a real heavy sigh ; 
" One battle, nurse, if I could have oney 

*' Well you must think of this, my dear, 
you or your mamma must give up your 
will — ^you must think which will be the 
best. But now, my dear, go to sleep as you 
promised me you would ; there's ten o'clock 
I do declare." 

" Yes, nurse " he said, tm-ning obediently 



CLARE ABBEY. 19 

on his side and closing his eyes — but as she 
was leaving the room he started up again, 
"Nurse, will you tell it me all again to- 
morrow?" 

" Well, well, go to sleep, my dear — we 
will see when to-morrow comes. "What a 
little king it is! " she murmured, as she took 
her place again before the large nursery 
work-basket. 



c 2 



20 CLARE ABBEY. 



CHAPTER II. 

Blessings in boyhood's marvelling hour, 
Bright dreams and fancyings strange ; 

Blessings where Reason's awful power 
Gave thought a bolder range. 

Lyra Apostolica. 

Oh ! he is bright and jocund as the morn, 
And there is not on earth that wilderness 
Which he could not reclaim, and in its wastes 
Detect the springs of fruitfulness and joy. 

Edwin the Fair. 

The wishes of childhood are rarely ob- 
literated, for they are the expression of 
some strong feature in the character. I do 
not mean common wishes ; I do not mean 
such a common desire, as the fancy to be a 
soldier, which is expressed by most boys, 
and even by many girls, in the course of 
their early years ; but I mean wishes of a 
rarer and more determined kind ; such a 



CLARE ABBEY. 21 

strong passionate wish as that which ani- 
mated the youthful heart of Ernest De Grey. 

Such wishes are rarely obliterated ; but 
they are often superseded by a new passion, 
and so it was in the case before us. The 
peculiar feature in his character which had 
prompted so intense a desire to be a soldier, 
remained unchanged within him ; but the 
desire itself with advancing years, with the 
awakening of new interests, was lulled to 
sleep. At sixteen his whole heart, his 
whole affections, his fancy and his imagina- 
tion were centered on Clare Abbey, the 
abode of his forefathers, and his own future 
inheritance. 

^' II y a des lieux," says La Bruyere, ^'qu'on 
admire — il y en a d'autres qui touchent, et 
ou Ton aimeroit a vivre," Clare Abbey 
was of the latter class. It was very pretty, 
but in describing the great features of its 
beauty, you would seem to be describing a 
thousand other places which ornament the 
face of the country in England. There was 
the broad clear stream, the verdant mea- 
dows, the luxuriant woods, the fine spreading 



22 CLARE ABBEY. 

trees, the sloping hills, which the inhabit- 
ants of the district dignified with the name 
of mountains, but which had no claim to 
the name ; all these beauties it had, and yet 
with all these it might only have been a 
fine place, and, as I think is the case with 
many fine places, would have had little 
power to " toucher le coeur." Clare Abbey 
had however its own individuality, and it 
was in the small touches which gave it its 
distinctive character that the attraction 
lay ; it had many features of a fine place, 
but no admirer on record had ever been 
known to comphment it with such an 
epithet. I must endeavour to describe it, 
that the scenes of this tale may have a local 
habitation and a name. 

The Abbey stood on a flat piece of ground 
which formed a terrace, beneath a wooded 
hill which protected it from the north, and 
with about a quarter of a mile of gently slop- 
ing meadow above the river. On one side it 
was approached by a long avenue of elm 
trees ; on the other side was a low copse 
wood, interspersed here and there with oak 



CLARE ABBEY. 23 

trees and firs of larger growth ; and through 
this wood, which formed a kind of pleasure 
ground, many wandering ways had been 
cut, which led with more or less directness 
to the pretty village of Cranleigh. On the 
south front the Avindows opened on a broad 
gravel walk with a lawn beyond ; beyond 
the lawn was another gravel walk, and a 
flower garden stood on each side ; the upper 
part of the lawn was ornamented with a 
variety of dark shrubs of low growth, and 
beyond the further walk, on the verge from 
whence the meadow began to slope, tall 
cypresses and stiiF-looking pines planted at 
regular distances, and forming vistas into 
the park, stood like sentinels, as if to guard 
the precincts of the dwelling from intrusion. 
The architecture of the Abbey was irre- 
gular, and perhaps, strictly considered, was 
liable to many objections. A part of it was 
very old, — long, low, and ecclesiastical-look- 
ing, with cloistral passages, jutting but- 
tresses, and chapel-like windows. Additions 
had been made from time to time, both in 
old and modern days, and sometimes in 



24 CLAEE ABBEY. 

some defiance of the laws of architecture ; 
yet upon the whole, notwithstanding some 
strange blending of styles and periods, a 
certain order and proportion in all the addi- 
tions had been observed, which delighted 
the eye ; and you felt as you often feel Avith 
the human countenance, that it was beau- 
tiful, although by right and rule it had no 
business to be so. All in, and around, and 
about the house had the same attraction. 
There was nothing regular : everything had 
a distinctive character, not amounting to ec- 
centricity, but possessing a mixture of wild- 
ness and quaintness, formality and grace, 
which came home to your heart, and took a 
place in your imagination. Hie ground fell, 
sloped, or broke, where you least expected 
it, and yet you could not but say that it was 
well done ; the stream curved, now grace- 
fully, now with a sharp an€l angular turning, 
wliich astonished and yet delighted you. 
The trees grew as trees should not grow, 
losing their leaders, hanging and drooping 
in quaint and picturesque attitudes ; and the 
mazy pleasure-grounds, although they had 



CLARE ABBEY. 25 

been laid out with art and care, appeared 
but to wander at tlieir own sweet will, and 
that will, however sweet, a very wayward 
and capricious one. Altogether, though it 
was not to all minds equally attractive, Clare 
Abbey had the peculiar gift of taking hold 
upon the fancy, and becoming, consciously 
or unconsciously, the haunt of the airy castles 
and fantastic creations of those who even 
once beheld it. 

To Ernest De Grey it was at once the 
home and resort of his every day fancy, and 
the ideal of his imaginative perfection. 

At one of the drawing-room windows 
opening to the ground, on a soft summer 
evening early in August, ten years after the 
date of the last chapter, the youthful heir of 
this fondly-cherished abode sate with his 
mother alone. The lapse of years, and of 
those years which seem like eternity to 
youth, had made but little change in him. 
The handsome child had grown into a tall 
and handsome youth ; but in his smile and 
in his eye you read that he was still a boy. 
In his whole air and manner there was a 



26 CLARE ABBEY. 

fresh and boyish grace, which I regret to 
think is now but seldom seen at the mature 
and advanced age of sixteen. In some re- 
spects he was even more boyish at sixteen 
than he had been at six ; for as his added 
years left him more free and unrestrained, 
the natural bent of his mind towards sport 
and action had developed itself, the exercises 
of the body usurping a greater share of his 
favours than the exercises of the intellect. 
His character, however, will, I hope, be suf- 
ficiently gathered in all its points and varia- 
tions from the record of the following con- 
versation ; and trusting to this hope, descrip- 
tion shall be spared. 

" You are very thoughtful to-night, Er- 
nest," said Mrs. De Grey, breaking at last a 
long and, when Ernest was present, a rather 
unusual silence. 

" Yes, mother, I was thinking," he replied, 
raising himself in the chair on which he was 
comfortably reclining. 

" And may I ask the subject of these se- 
rious meditations? " she rejoined, smiling. 

" Why, yes, mother, you are to know some 



CLARE ABBEY. 27 

of my thoughts ; but I was thinking of so 
many things, that I hardly know what to 
begin upon. Do you remember Mr. Mark- 
ham, mother, how angry he used to be be- 
cause I said I could think of twenty things 
at once ? I remember his telling me at last, 
that I was very insolent to set up my opinion 
against that of the wisest philosophers, who 
had pronounced it to be impossible. But, 
notwithstanding Mr. Markliam and his friends, 
my opinion has remained unchanged. I don't 
know what philosophers can do ; but I can 
think of twenty tilings at once — twenty at 
least — and so I have been doing to-night." 

" I am afraid, Ernest," said his mother, 
with a smile, " these variegated thoughts are 
not very wise ones." 

" They are good, I think, some of them. 
Some I hope, some I am sure, will please 
you. They are plans, mother, — ^plans of 
things I want to do. I plan till I am quite 
mad. I will tell you one, now, which I tliink 
you will like : it is about the old church. It 
is so pretty, it is a pity to leave it as it is. I 
want so much to repair and improve it." 



28 CLARE ABBEY. 

" Really, my dear Ernest, have you thought 
of that?" his mother said, with some sur- 
prise ; for the sportive and pleasure-loving 
boy was little given to schemes of a serious 
or a useful kind. 

" I can't say that it is quite my own idea, 
mother : it was put into my head ; but, 
having been put in, I get very mad about it. 
You know that Lady Frances Leicester, who 
is so good-natured to me and the other boys 
at Overton? Well, she has new done the 
church there : it is quite beautiful now. And 
one day, while I was admiring it, she asked 
me about our church ; and when I described 
it, she laughed excessively at the high pulpit 
and our great pew, and said Avhat a shame it 
was, and drew me a sketch of how it should 
be. It might be the prettiest church in Eng- 
land, mother, that I am sure of; and I never 
shall rest till it is so. I meant to have asked 
my father to do it when I came home tliis 
time ; but he has been looking so grave, and 
you too, mother, that I thought perhaps I 
had better not." 

" You are right, Ernest ; you had better 



CLARE ABBEY. 29 

not," his mother replied, a shade passing over 
her face, which always was a sad one. " Your 
father is worried about money just now, and 
he could not attend to you. But, my dear 
boy, your wish makes me very happy, and I 
hope you loill dream of it. Young as you 
are, you might already begin to think of ac- 
complishing it." 

" Not very soon, mother," he said, laugh- 
ing. " Lady Frances said one or two thousand 
would be necessary. I should not care to do 
it badly. However, we must wait for that, 
and many other things. Oh ! mother, don't 
you wish my education was over." 

She shook her head with a smile. 

" Whj^ mother, then I could always live 
here, and always be with you; don't you 
care for that?" 

" I am afraid, Ernest, I think you want a 
little education ; and, besides, I am too old 
to wish away years as you do," 

" I don't wish them away," he said, eagerly. 
" I have got enough to do for years and years 
to come. I only want the time to come when 
I may use the years. This education takes 



30 CLARE ABBEY. 

me up entirely. I will just count over some 
of the things I want to do here. There is 
the church, and then there is a tennis- 
court . . . . " 

Mrs, De Grey again shook her head. 

" You mean that is very expensive too. 
Well, but, mother, I thought we were rich. 
However, never mind ; only let me tell you 
my wants. 1 am so very fond of tennis : 
Lady Frances lets us play in her court at 
Overton, and sometimes I feel as if I could 
not live without it. Then I wish to have a 
pack of hounds. My father said something 
about it five years ago, and I have been 
watching, and waiting, and expecting to 
hear more ; but he has never mentioned it 
again to me. Does he ever speak about it to 
you, mother?" 

" No, Ernest, never," she said gravely. 

" I hope he will. I should like to hunt, 
and look after hounds .... Well, and then 
a very good cricket-ground ; and then, mo- 
ther, there are some of our plans, yours and 
mine, the cuttings, and the new di'ives ; and 
then, besides all that, I want to do a great 



CLARE ABBEY. 31 

deal of good. I have no end of plans about 
the poor people. Lady Frances talks to me 
whenever I go to Overton, and shows me lier 
plans, because she says I have a good head 
for such things — and I thmk I have." 

Mrs. De Grey said nothing in reply to this 
enumeration of his wants ; but he read in 
her countenance a mother's interest in all 
his plans and desires ; and, to say the truth, 
it was no unusual thing for Ernest to bear 
the principal share in their confidential con- 
versations. 

He paused for a moment, then continued : 
" And now, mother, about my plans." 

" Your plans, Ernest ! " she said, laughing. 
'' Why, have you more of them ? " 

" Oh yes ! I have only been telling you 
my vague dreams, for I dream about Clare 
Abbey day and night : my plans are more 
formed, and are very important. They must 
begin with a question. My dear mother," — 
he spoke in an anxious, and rather an insi- 
nuating voice, — " can you tell me — am I to 
go back to old Crackinthorpe's ? " 

" Your father has not quite made up his 



32 CLARE ABBEY. 

mind. / wish you to go for another year 
before you go to Oxford. What do you think 
yourself? I meant to talk to you about it 
some day." 

" I had much rather not," he replied de- 
cidedly. 

"Why, Ernest?" 

"Why, mother," he said, again raising 
himself eagerly in his chau", " the fact is, I 
am not made for what is called a sedentary 
life. At Mr. Crackinthorpe's we read from 
morning till night, and I am getting tired 
of it." 

" I thought you were fond of reading, 
Ernest. I am sorry to hear you speak as 
you do." 

" I am fond of reading in a certain way ; 
but then it must be my way, and not Mr. 
Crackinthorpe's. Percy and Lovel call me 
a book- worm sometimes, because I like to 
read Shakspere, and Hollingshed, and Plu- 
tarch's Lives on a rainy day. I do like that 
sort of reading very much ; but I don't care 
for what old Crackinthorpe likes. I don't 
like Greek and Latin ; and as to mathematics. 



CLARE ABBEY. 33 

if I go on with them, I know, mother, the 
end will be that you will have to visit me in 
Bedlam. And, after all, as I am not to be- 
long to any learned profession, what is the 
use of it ? Really, mother, I had much better 
do something more improving, and not bore 
myself with things I hate any longer." 

" Do you think you never are to do any- 
tliing you dislilve, Ernest ? " his mother asked, 
rather gravely. 

The boy coloured. " Not never ^ mother ; 
and I don't object to doing what I dislike, 
when there is any use in it ; but when there 
is no particular use . . . . " 

" And are you the best person to decide 
what is useful or not?" she continued se- 
riously, though she smiled. " You nmst not 
suppose, Ernest, that I don't understand what 
you mean. When I was young, I felt and 
argued just as you do. I remember when I 
was first made to learn German, that I hated 
it ; and because I hated it, I thought it was 
useless to take any trouble about it. I told 
my governess that, when once she was gone, 
I never would look at it again ; but, notwith- 

VOL. I. D 



34 CLARE ABBEY. 

Standing all my entreaties, she insisted upon 
my going on ; and I found afterwards that 
her reason for making such a point of it was 
because I hated it. I was rather a spoiled 
child ; and she saw that it would be good 
for me to overcome my own feelings, at her 
desire, without regard to the usefulness of 
the study. And she was right. My dislike 
to the language has always continued, and I 
have looked at it but little since she went 
away. But I feel, in other ways, that the 
hard study at the German I hated has been 
more useful to me than almost any other part 
of my education. Do you see the application 
to yourself, Ernest? " 

" Am I a spoiled child, mother ? " 
" Not quite spoiled, I hope," she replied 
fondly, as she met the glance of his clear 
bright eyes ; " but you are a little too much 
accustomed to have your own way, and to 
think that all your mshes must be gratified ; 
— rather fond of your own will and pleasiu'e. 
Is it not so? " And she looked smilingly in 
his face. 

^' Perhaps," he said, thoughtfully. 



CLARE ABBEY. 35 

" Then, my dear boy, you will not, I hope, 
be surprised if, notwithstanding your strong 
msh, I still think it better for you to go to 
Mr. Crackinthorpe's again." 

Ernest made no answer : he was medi- 
tating. When he spoke, it was with some- 
thing of timidity and anxiety. 

" I am afraid, mother, you will think I am 
only anxious for my jpleasure^ if I tell you 
my plan, my chief plan of all — the one I 
have been coming to all this time. But, in- 
deed, if I can judge about myself at all, I 
don't think I speak only for my pleasure. I 
don't wish to be idle ; I really wish to im- 
prove myself — I wish to be usefiil when I 
am a man ; and, after a great deal of con- 
sideration, I think that, under my plan, I 
should learn a great deal more than if I went 
on in the regular way." 

He stopped, and looked at his mother. 
She smiled, but rather anxiously. 

" Don't be afraid of speaking, Ernest ; you 
know I shall not be afraid of telling you 
what I think." 

"Well, mother, then the fact is, I don't 
d2 



86 CLAKE ABBEY. 

want to go to Oxford : I want to travel in- 
stead. You see," he continued, speaking 
very fast, to prevent a remonstrance until 
all his arguments had been laid before his 
mother, " I don't think I learn very much 
from studying. Perhajps it is my fault ; but 
I think it is the fault of my nature. I always 
find that from anything I see or hear, I learn 
twice as much as I do by reading. When I 
see anything curious or striking, it sets me 
thinking, and I find that I very seldom forget 
what I have once seen and thought about ; 
but wdth reading it is different — nothing 
makes much impression. I was reading about 
a man the other day, who seemed just like 
me. His biographer said that he could be 
taught nothing, he was obhged to learn every- 
thing by observation and experience ; and 
so you see, mother, that if I were to travel, 
and to observe and take pains while I was 
travelling, I should learn a great deal more 
than if I went to Oxford, where I should 
only see one set of things and people. Do 
you see what I mean, mother ? — do you like 



CLARE ABBEY. 37 

what I say ? " And he bent forward to look 
at her with eager sparkling eyes. 

"I am afraid, Ernest," she said, rather 
sadly, " that your old soldier fancy is stirring 
again. You will not be satisfied without 
some great excitement." 

"No, mother, no, no, no," he repeated, 
vehemently, " I don't want to be a soldier : 
I should hate to be a soldier. I wish edu- 
cation and all the bother of it was over, that 
I might come and settle here for good ; for I 
care for nothing but Clare Abbey in all the 
world. I only wish, as this education must 
take place, to get over it the best way I can, 
and to learn as much as I can while it is 
going on. So, my dear mother . . . ." 

The conversation was interrupted by a 
loud ring at the door-bell. 



38 CLARE ABBEY. 



CHAPTER III. 

Droop not, but nobly struggle still, 

For others look to thee ; 
And they would cease to strive with ill, 

If thou shouldst conquer' d be. 

Georgiana Bennet. 

Mrs. De Grey's life liad been a life of 
trial — trial, not so much startling and out- 
ward, as inward and oppressive. 

She had married early, and in her mar- 
riage all who loved her had supposed her 
happiness to be insured. The husband of 
her choice had every advantage of appear- 
ance, station, and mental qualification which 
the most fastidious could desire; and the 
second home to which her destiny brought 
her, was sufficiently attractive to win (what 
is rather hard to be won) that tenderness of 
interest and regard, the especial property of 
the home of our childliood alone. But, 



CLARE ABBEY. 39 

though all was outwardly smiling, clouds 
were even in early days hanging over the 
young wife's lot. Her husband's temper was 
bad — not passionate, not jealous, but bad. 
He could not bear thwarting ; small trials 
depressed, small vexations soured him. His 
spirits were restless and uncertain ; he needed 
amusement and excitement, not from weak- 
ness or deficiency of mind, but simply to 
prevent him from brooding over petty con- 
tradictions. 

Mrs. De Grey's education had little 
fitted her for the duties which such a 
temper required. A sunny-minded active 
wife might have brought sunshine to her 
husband's mind ; but she had been a spoiled 
child, one ever petted, ever considered, — the 
chosen and constant companion of a twin- 
brother, whose sweet, cloudless disposition, 
had been miruffled by a single care. She 
loved her husband ; but the very strength of 
her love made her sink and tremble beneath 
his gloom. Saddened by her brother's loss, 
her own spirits required cheering. During 
the early days of courtship they had been 



40 CLARE ABBEY. 

cheered by a devoted lover. She was not 
prepared for the new duties required of her : 
she failed in performing them. Then trials 
came. Mr. De Grey wished with more than 
ordinary anxiety for a son. Three daughters 
appeared in succession; but almost before 
their father had banished the frown that 
greeted their birth, the mother wept over 
their loss. Two sons followed, welcomed 
with love from both their parents, received 
with rejoicing, almost with triumph ; and 
they too pined and died one after the other, 
and the house remained desolate. The father 
was embittered by trial, the mother crushed. 
Over the married life, which had dawned so 
happily, appeared to be settling a hopeless 
gloom. 

But pure and beautiful natures, although 
for a time they may abandon themselves to 
an excess of grief, cannot for ever close 
their eyes to those duties which are laid 
alike upon the happy and the afflicted. She 
awoke at length to the sinfulness and rebel- 
liousness of the despondency to which she 
had yielded herself; and before the bii^th of 



CLARE ABBEY. 41 

Ernest, her youngest child, flinging off the 
weight that oppressed her, she set herself 
seriously to consider the responsibilities of 
her life. Unhappily, evil is hard to undo : 
the mind of her husband appeared to be 
hopelessly embittered. The birth of Ernest, 
and the interest of liis young life, which 
brought thoughts of gratitude, and peace, 
and reviving to her, were ineffectual in 
cheering him. He loved his son, cared for 
his son, toiled even too much for the fliture 
prosperity of his son ; but, except at rare 
intervals, he remained, as by the habit of 
years he had become, morose, and hard to 
please. Of late, sadder and darker fears for 
his peace and welfare had oppressed her. 
Bitten, in common with many of his coun- 
trymen, by the spirit of speculation, he had 
thrown himself headlong, as was his nature, 
into the excitement of money-getting ; and 
a short time of restless and excited cheer- 
fulness had been followed by weeks of 
deeper gloom, and more incurable despond- 
ency. Never again, however, after her first 
awakening, did Mrs. De Grey yield herself to 



42 CLARE ABBEY. 

melancholy. The time was past when she 
could summon elastic gaiety to her aid — 
mirth and gaiety will not come at our call ; 
but patience, serenity, tranquillity, soft words 
and loving smiles — these, which are in our 
power, by slow degrees she had made her 
own, and these she never failed to give. 

A few words describe the trials of years ; 
but deep and ineffaceable are the traces 
which those years, so easily described, leave 
as they pass. Though not yet fifty, Mrs. De 
Grey looked like an old woman. She had 
been very lovely in her youth : she was 
beautiful still, but it was the beauty of age. 
Her cheek was blanched and faded, her hair 
white as the purest silver, her figure slightly 
bent, and even in the peace and serenity 
which her countenance had now attained, 
you felt that it was the hush and repose 
which comes after, not before, a storm. 
There are some beautiful words of Mac- 
kenzie's, which present a perfect picture of 
the mother of the hero of my tale. 

" She kept her sorrows, like the devotions 
that solaced them, sacred to herself. They 



CLAKE ABBEY. 43 

threw nothing of gloom over her deportment 
— -a gentle shade only — like the fleckered 
clouds of smnmer, that increase, not dimi- 
nish, the benignity of the season." 

A loud knock or ring is an event which 
even the most accustomed ears do not hear 
with indifference. Even if repeated twenty 
times a day, to some speculation, pleasing or 
unpleasing, it gives rise ; and, coming unex- 
pectedly, it is sufficient to cause an answer- 
ing vibration in the strongest nerves, and in 
the most unexcitable heart. 

Mr. De Grey had been absent for some 
days from home, and was expected to be 
absent for some days longer. This notice, 
therefore, of an arrival was an unexpected 
one ; and though some people are in the 
habit of coming and going without exciting 
much of hope or fear, or any disturbing sen- 
sation, he was not one of these. Mrs. De 
Grey, whose nerves were weak, started and 
trembled, and her pale cheek became paler. 
Ernest, little inclined to fear, or to think 
that there was any cause for fear in this 



44 CLARE ABBEY. 

world, was yet swift to read his mother's 
anxious countenance. He quickly left the 
room, and as quickly returned again. 

" It 's my father's carriage," he said ; " but 
my father is not come yet. Foster says he 
got out at the top of the hill, and said he 
would walk home." After a moment he con- 
tinued : ^' Shall I go and meet him ? or will 
you come too, mother? It is such a beau- 
tiful evening." 

" Perhaps we had better not," she said, 
gently. " He has had some harassing busi- 
ness in London ; and you know he likes a 
quiet walk alone. But you shall go and 
order some dinner to be ready, and ring the 
bell for candles. "We have been talking so 
long, that it is quite dark." 

When the candles were brought, and 
Ernest sate down opposite to his mother, he 
was struck by the unusual sadness and pale- 
ness of her countenance. 

"Is anything the matter, mother?" he 
asked. " You do look so ill. Do you 
really mean that that stupid bell frightened 

you?" 



CLARE ABBEY. 45 

She smiled at his inquiries ; but the ex- 
pression of disturbance remained the same, 
or rather increased, during the long hour 
that passed before her husband appeared. 

He came at length ; and then, if there was 
any secret cause for anxiety, his countenance 
did not tend to set it at rest. One rapid 
searching glance his wife directed to him, 
and withdrew her eyes ; but in that glance 
she fancied that his stern features were 
sterner, his form more bent, his hair whiter, 
and his whole appearance more aged, than 
when she had parted from him a short week 
before. 

He scarcely appeared to notice their pre- 
sence, retiu*ned no answer to their affection- 
ate greeting; but turning gloomily to the 
empty fireplace, placed himself before it, 
and, with a muttered complaint, exclaimed 
against the cold. 

"Cold, father!" Ernest exclaimed in as- 
tonishment, for the day was intensely hot ; 
" do you really feel cold — shall I light the 
fire?'' 

" I usually mean what I say," he replied 



46 CLAKE ABBEY. 

sullenly. — "Do light it, Ernest," said his 
mother, " and shut the window." 

The fire burnt as fires perversely delight 
to burn on a hot summer's day : the wood 
blazed and crackled, the coals kindled, the 
room became like a fiu*nace. 

"It is hot enough now," remarked poor 
Ernest, his cheeks more than rivalling the 
fire in their brilliant glow. 

" Hot ! what else should it be with such 
a fire as this ? — there is no bearing the 
room." And Mr. De Grey, with an impa- 
tient movement, rolled back his chair. 

A warning glance, grave and entreating, 
witliheld the answer that was bursting from 
Ernest's lips ; but though he could restrain 
himself where he only was concerned, he 
could not patiently endure the contemptuous 
remarks and bitter replies with which his 
mother's anxious inquiries, and soothing 
endeavours, were received. Gloom, depres- 
sion, and peevishness were no unusual sym- 
ptoms in his father's temper ; but the mood 
of this night was uncommon ; — contempt- 
uous replies to his mother, in his presence 



CLARE ABBEY. 47 

at least, were unusual, and he could not 
bear them. Finding the risins^ wi^ath of a 
hot though sweet temper difficult to subdue, 
he suddenly left his seat, snatched up a 
book, and retreated to pass the evening in 
his own room. 

The door had scarcely closed when ]\Ir. 
De Grey rose, stood before his wife, and the 
volcano burst forth. Its fire was directed 
ao'ainst himself, not ao^ainst her. The tem- 

O JO 

per which he had inflicted upon her and 
on his child was but the expression of the 
despairing misery that filled his heart, — was 
but the smothered rage which inwardly was 
lavished on himself. He began to speak, 
and now with passionate remorse, now ^vith 
bitter despair, he told her the tale of his 
utter, hopeless, irretrievable ruin. 

As the aifaks of this night are important 
only so far as Ernest is concerned, I will not 
dwell upon the scene, but shortly state the 
particulars of the case. 

Mr. De Grey had originally engaged in 
speculation for amusement — to occupy liis 



48 CLARE ABBET. 

restless nature — nominally to replace a sum 
lost by the failure of a banking-house in 
London. Then the fever of gain — that 
blinding, maddening fever — had taken pos- 
session of him. He went on and on : suc- 
cessfully at first, — then fortune changed, 
but the fever remained. He lost and won, 
lost and won, and lost. He awoke and 
found himself a ruined man ; and in this 
ruin not himself alone, but Ernest was in- 
volved. From circumstances connected with 
the property — the estates had not been 
placed in settlement, and all was lost : 
Clare Abbey, the possession of his fore- 
fathers, and the beloved home of his 
youth, must be given up into the hands of 
strangers. 

This was the sum and substance of the 
startling announcement which fell on the 
ears of the loving wife and doting mother. 
As my readers will have perceived, she was 
prepared for some blow : she had seen the 
gradual growth of the new passion, the 
" haste to be rich," in the mind of her 



CLARE ABBEY. 49 

husband ; and, without pain, she had seen 
of late that his speculations were failing to 
answer his sanguine anticipations : she was 
prepared to hear of a great loss, — of the 
necessity of a change of life ; she had even 
contemplated the probability of being driven 
from their home and their country, of living 
for a time in poverty that Ernest should 
never suffer ; but his share in the trial had 
never even suggested itself to her imagina- 
tion, and the announcement came with the 
startling violence of a thunder clap. It 
was the uprooting the treasured hopes and 
dreams of years. 

She did not fail however — as what loving 
wife could fail ! — to meet the trial as it 
should be met. She was not naturally what 
is called a strong-minded woman ; but she 
had acquired strength in the experience of 
her life, and this kind of strength, mingling 
as it does the softness of feeling with the 
calm of self-control, is of all tempers the 
one best fitted to deal with misfortune, and 
to heal the pangs of remorse. Soft words 
turn away wrath, and many other are the 

VOL. I, E 



50 CLARE ABBEY. 

hidden powers and virtues they possess, — 
disarming misery of its sting, often changing 
evil into good. From the soft words that 
night spoken, blessings unhoped for and 
unexpected came ; for through their influ- 
ence a tie of trust and confidence was 
cemented between those whom the joys 
and trials of life had hitherto failed to unite. 



CLARE ABBEY. 51 



CHAPTER IV. 

I pray not, dearest, thou mayst be 

For ever as I see thee now, 
Unruffled as the summer sea 

Without a care to cloud thy brow; 
I know that thou wert sent to share 

Life 's mingled cup of good and ill ; 
Child of a Holy Father's care, 

Submit thee to His Sovereign will. 

Sewell's Sacred Thoughts. 

Ideas on education are so various, that the 
system pursued by Mrs. De Grey in the 
education of her child would probably have 
been liable to objections of opposite kinds. 
Some, because of the high principles, reli- 
gious and moral, which she instilled, would 
have called it strict ; but the larger number 
perhaps in the present day, seeing her atten- 
tion to his wants and wishes, — her earnest 
care to encircle his young life with an atmo- 
sphere of happiness, would have pronounced 
it to be over-indulgent. 
E 2 

IIRDADV 



02 CLARE ABBEY. 

There is no doubt that, provided the great 
principles of reverence, obedience, and self- 
denial are properly instilled, the early years 
of a child can hardly, for its future good, be 
too happy ; — the strictness that brings dis- 
comfort and unliappiness in its train is a 
false and perilous strictness ; nevertheless 
there might have been some truth in the 
accusation of over-indulgence. Content with 
feeding his mind with high and noble 
thoughts, the mother may have been less 
careful to bring those thoughts into action. 
Satisfied with acting steadily for his good 
in great points, she may in those lesser 
thinc^s which far more than crreat ones form 
the character, have been too desirous to 
gratify his wishes, to guard him from disap- 
pointment, to make the earth he trod a 
flowery way, and the sky above his head a 
cloudless one. Such at least was the re- 
proach that conscience made when the time 
drew near to speak, — to speak those words 
which Avould blight his sunny, sanguine 
dreams for ever. 

Mrs. De Grey had delayed the disclosure 



CLARE ABBEY. b6 

till the last moment : she shrank from it. 
None knew as she did how great the trial 
to her son would be ; for it was she herself 
who had twined the thoughts of his home 
with his very heartstrings. Shrinking, with 
something perhaps of weakness, from his 
first wish, so warmly and passionately ex- 
pressed, she had woven the idea of his home 
into all the plans for his education, — into 
all his visions of the future, — she had 
made it at once the motive for exertion 
and its reward : Clare Abbey had become 
— and it was she herself who had made it 
so — the idol of her son's heart. 

Something to blame, no doubt, there was 
in this, but it was rather an excess of a right 
principle than the enforcement of a wrong 
one. In such strong early local attachments 
there is so much of good, — such concen- 
trated affections are so powerful as weapons 
in a future warfare with evil, — that praise 
and blame might almost equally be distri- 
buted ; — we might almost say, that even in 
its excess the failing leans to virtue's side. 

Again the mother and son sat alone, to- 



54 CLARE ABBEY. 

wards the close of an August day. It was 
three weeks since the evening of the fatal 
announcement, and those three weeks of 
glorious summer weather had been passed 
by Ernest in a state of intense enjoyment. 
To his numerous active sports and pleasures 
he had lately added a love of boating ; and 
as day after day he returned from his excur- 
sions on the water, with companions gay and 
eager as himself, his mother had averted her 
eyes from his sunburnt cheek and dazzling 
smile, and to the promptings of her inward 
monitor had still replied, " Not to-day ! let 
me spare him yet; the time will come all 
too soon." The time, however, at length 
had come, and could no more be delayed. 
^Ir. De Grey was gone to London to com- 
plete his arrangements for the sale of his 
property, and before his return the dis- 
closure was to be made. 

Ernest had been at home all day; his 
young companions, the Leslies, younger in 
years, though not in nature, than himself, 
had returned to school. Fulfilling, at length, 
of his own will, an often postponed promise, 



CLARE ABBEY. 55 

he had been engaged for many hours of the 
afternoon in making a catalogue of some 
curious old prints for his mother, and had 
devoted himself to his task with unusual 
quietness and diligence. 

"There, mother!" he exclauned at last, 
closing a large portfolio which lay before 
him, laying down his pen, and stretching out 
his arms, with a slight sigh of weariness — 
" There, it is done at last ! and I hope, for 
once, you will tell me that I have really 
been industrious." 

"You really have," she replied with a 
smile. After a moment she continued affec- 
tionately, but gravely — "I hardly expected 
you to persevere in such a long and tiresome 
task, and I have been watching you with 
pleasure. Patience and industry may be 
necessary even for you, Ernest" 

"You always speak like that, mother," 
he said, colouring slightly, for his conscience 
took her praise rather in the light of a re- 
proof : " I know you think I care for nothing 
but my own pleasure, and perhaps you are 
right. Ever since our conversation the other 



56 CLAKE ABBEY. 

night I have been thinking of what you said, 
and trying to find out if it was true ; and 

I am afraid it is true .... rather 

but I don't mean it to be true. I hate 
selfishness." He sat for a moment thought- 
ful, then laughed as he spoke — "Didn't some 
old heathen say something about knowing 
oneself being a great object? if so, I have 
made a great attainment these last few 
weeks. I always used to think I was a 
hero, something very superior indeed, — 
made to sacrifice myself, and to delight in 
it, and now " — he paused. 

"And now .... what?" and his mother 
watched him with a smile, but an anxious 
one. 

" And now, mother, I am afraid that I 
should prefer doing what I please to any 
sacrifice whatever." 

" You do not, I hope, look upon yom'self 
as incapable of a sacrifice?" she asked, 
with a gravity that made him dwell upon 
the subject. 

" No," he said, after some consideration ; 
"I don't think I should mind one sreat 



CLARE ABBEY. 57 

sacrifice, — even if it were a very great one. 
1 think, on the contrary, I should rather like 
the excitement of it : but what I mean that 
I have discovered is this, — I never thought 
before that I was very fond of having my 
own way, and my own wishes gratified, but 
after thinking of it, I am afraid I am. I 
am afraid I never could bear to go through 
a long course of sacrifices. I am afraid, I 
think, that always to do what one disliked, 
as some people do, would be very hard." 

Mrs. De Grey took a book from the table, 
and opening it, read aloud the following 
sentence : 

" I have no doubt that happiness is to be 
found rather in renouncing one's own will, 
than in gratifying it. Looking back from 
the eminence of a long life on the valley 
through which I have passed, I have no 
hesitation in saying, that those spots which 
now shine the brightest, are not those which 
were illuminated by enjo}anent ; but rather 
those which were hallowed by sacrifice." 

"Well, mother, I can understand that to 
a degree," Ernest said, after listening to her 



58 CLARE ABBEY. 

with atttention. " I dare say when one 
looks hack one had rather think of what 
one has given up, than of what one has 
merely enjoyed ; but looking forward is 
quite another thing. Giving up in expecta- 
tion one's hopes and wishes is a melancholy 
thought ; don't you think so, mother?" 

She was bending over her work, — she 
did not appear to hear him. 

"lam afraid, mother," he said, looking 
at her with some earnestness, " you expect 
me to wish to be disappointed. I can't 
do that." 

" No, indeed, my dear boy ; I have heard 
some people express a wish for trial, and 
I have always considered such a wish both 
unwise and presumptuous ; but if trial came, 
dear Ernest, I hope you would not shrink 
from it." 

" I hope not," he said, thoughtfully, struck 
by something unusual in his mother's man- 
ner ; but the cloud of momentary gravity, 
was not of long duration. A few minutes 
afterwards he walked towards the window, 
and leaning out of it, continued playfully. 



CLARE ABBEY. 59 

" I think that gentleman, mother, must have 
been rather melancholy m his mind, for I 
disagree with him about looking back. / 
think there is something very bright about 
a place where one has once been happy — 
merely simply happy without doing any 
good to anybody. Now those bushes, mo- 
ther," pointing to a large clump of under- 
wood on one side of the lawn, "you will 
laugh at me, I dare say, but I never go by 
them without a particular feeling of happi- 
ness ; and that comes from a remembrance 
of the house that Harry Leslie and I built 
there a hundred years ago now ; and just 
in the same way Clare Abbey will always 
look bright. I fancy that when I am a 
horridly old man, I shall still feel happy 
while I can creep about it, and think of all 
I did in ... . my dear mother, in my hapjpy 
youth," and he came suddenly towards her 
and put his arm round her neck. 

She rose up hastily from her seat, and 
gently repulsed his embrace ; she could not 
bear it at that moment. 

"Will you walk Avith me this evening, 



GO CLARE ABBEY. 

Ernest?" she asked with a gravity and 
meaning in her manner which he could not 
understand. 

" Yes, mother ; I should like it very 
much;" but while he spoke he was examin- 
ing her countenance. 

Mrs. De Grey was quickly ready, and they 
set off together. Her health, though good, 
was not strong, and Ernest's arm was 
the common support of her languid foot- 
steps when she made any unusual exertion. 
Now, without expressing any definite pur- 
pose, she insensibly guided him up the 
ascent, to the brow of the hill, from whence 
the finest view of Clare Abbey was to be 
obtained. In sight of all its beauty she 
wished him to give it up. 

They walked along in silence. There are 
ways and means independent of any out- 
ward sign or expression by which those 
between whom there is a strong bond of 
sympathy communicate their impressions to 
each other. Such a power was used now 
by Mrs. De Grey. She said no more ; her 
countenance was serious, but no more : all 



CLAKE ABBEY. 61 

around was calm and quiet, as it was wont 
to be ; and yet Ernest, as they pursued 
their silent way, plunged in deep though 
unconscious reflection, felt as if he stood on 
the brink of some extraordinary event. 

They reached the brow of the hill, and 
there Mrs. De Grey paused and turned to 
gaze. The sun was setting, and such streams 
of rose-coloured light were falhng from the 
sky and bathing the woods and waters, that 
a landscape poor in natural advantages would 
have been transformed into a fairy land. Its 
effect on the pecuhar and romantic scenery 
around and about the Abbey, is easier for 
the fancy to imagine than the pen to 
picture. 

Mrs. De Grey turned, however, from the 
landscape to gaze on the hving beauty of 
her son's countenance, glowing and sparkling 
with admiration and pride. 

" You are very fond of Clare Abbey, 
Ernest?" she said, with a grave inquiring 
sadness. 

"My dear mother, do you doubt it?" ho 
said, reproachfully; "why do you look at 



62 CLARE ABBEY. 

me so strangely ? You cannot misunderstand 
me, surely? you cannot suppose that because 
I said the other day I wished to travel, 
I care for travelling or anything else in the 
world compared to being at home, here, at 
Clare Abbey with you? You must have 
misunderstood me most strangely !" 

" No, I did not doubt it ; I know very 
well what you feel; but in my weakness, 
Ernest, I postpone the tale of tidings heavy 
to your ear. I have something to tell you, 
my dearest boy ; you may have discovered 
that I have spoken much of the necessity 
of sacrifice ; it was to prepare you to make 
one. I must ask you now, are you capable 
of a great sacrifice — a sacrifice of that which 
is very dear to you ! can you give up all the 
hopes and dreams you have pictured for 
your fiature life, and not murmur? " 

He looked at her in vacant astonish- 
ment. 

" I am speaking the truth, dear Ernest ; 
you will have indeed much to give up ! 
Your father has lost all — nothing remains 
for him or for you. This place, Clare Abbey, 



CLARE ABBEY. 63 

must be given up into the hands of 
strangers." 

'' But how, mother ?" he asked, wonder- 
ingly, too much amazed to realize or to feel. 

" You shall know all in time, Ernest. 
There has been error — I do not shrink from 
telling you so — error on your father's part, 
and through error this misfortune comes ; 
but it is not for us, for you or for me to 
blame : your own heart will tell you that, 
dear Ernest. I would rather have you feel 
that though human conduct and human 
error may be the cause, it is not less the 
hand of God that sends the trial and asks 
from you submission." 

He stood by her side in silence, his eyes 
fixed upon the ground. His thoughts were 
not of his father's error, nor his own sub- 
mission ; but flitting before him there came 
the past joys of his childhood, the present 
joys of his youth, the pictured joys of his 
fixture days, all centered and treasured in 
that one spot before him ; and vaguely fell 
the words that it must be given up. Ernest 
was right ; he was not a hero. 



64 CLARE ABBEY. 

" Will you not speak, Ernest?" his mother 
asked, gently; "will you not tell me how 
you will bear the change ?" 

He gave a rapid glance around, then said 
hurriedly, " If you can bear it, mother, 
surely I can ! " But in his heart he felt as if 
the glory of life was ebbing from the spot 
where he stood. 

She said no more, neither in exhortation 
nor in sympathy. She saw that even she 
had scarcely estimated the weight of the 
blow that had fallen ; but there is a time 
for all things, and it seemed to her then to 
be a time not to speak, but to keep silence. 
She left him to his own thoughts. 

" Shall we go home, Ernest ?" she said 
at last ; " it is getting dark." 

" So it is," he replied, looking around 
him, — with a half smile adding, "how 
changed it is since we came up here." 

They retraced their steps, and walked in 
silence till they approached the house. As 
they were entering it Ernest said, 

^' I will talk to you to-morrow, mother. 
I am afraid I have disappointed you ; you 



CLARE ABBEY. 65 

expected me to speak more nobly, more 
bravely, but I am not quite sure yet what 
I do feel. It is very easy to speak, but I 
should be sorry to speak well now, and to 
fail afterwards. I must think. I can only 
say, mother, that I hope you will never have 
reason to be ashamed of me." 

And without saying or waiting to hear 
more, he left her ; appeared at dinner with 
a sniiling countenance, and talked cheerfully 
on other subjects during the whole evening. 



VOL. I. 



(iS CLARE ABBEY. 



CHAPTER V. 

He that is born is listed. Life is war. 

Young's Night Thoughts. 

Clare Abbey was sold, and sold well ; 
which was a satisfaction to Mr. De Grey's 
creditors, though it was of no advantage to 
him. It was bidden for and eagerly pur- 
chased by a gentleman of large property in 
the county, whose house was inadequate to 
the size of his estates, and who had often 
contemplated the antique beauty of the 
house, grounds, and park of Clare Abbey 
(speaking as they did of an ancient family 
and a far descent), with the eyes of hope- 
less envy. The sale was a private one ; the 
house was not dismantled ; pictures, books, 
furniture, with few exceptions, everything 
was sold. Mr. De Grey, with his family 
and household, departed in the month of 



CLARE ABBEY. 67 

September, and in the month of October 
his successor, with his family and house- 
hold, took possession of the Abbey. There 
was little noise or conversation on the sub- 
ject. The change was so quietly made, 
that few remembered how, in that change, 
the hopes of a young life were shattered, 
and a young man's buoyant heart was sad- 
dened for ever. 

" Oh, mamma ! what a pretty, pretty 
place ! " said a lovely little girl of about six 
years old, springing up in the barouche, 
which was conve^dng the new family to 
their new abode. 

"So it is, Camilla ; " and Lady Vere, for 
the first time indolently raised her veil and 
looked around her. " What a fine avenue ! 
I wonder how many trees there are. 1 dare 
say there are fifty." 

" Fifty! my lady," said the nurse, " there 
must be three hundred at the very least." 

'* Dear, you don't say so ? " and Lad) 
Vere opened her beautiful eyes. " What a 
quantity ! " 

'' Oh, Reginald ! isn't it pretty ? " said the 
F 2 



G8 CLARE ABBEY. 

little girl, springing up again, as they came 
in siglit of the house. "What a nice gar- 
den, and what nice grass, and what nice 
bushes ! Oh, Reginald ! a'n't you glad that 
we are coming to live here ? " 

" You always like everything new, Ca- 
milla," said the boy, coldly ; and there was 
a cloud on his brow. 

" Sit still, Camilla ; you rumple all my 
silk," remarked her mother. 

The carriage stopped. Camilla was lifted 
from the carriage, and the brother followed 
her. 

" Oh, Reginald, pigeons ! " she screamed ; 
and, seizing her brother's hand, she scam- 
pered off into the stables, from w^hence she 
had observed the top of a pigeon-house. He 
stood by her side in silence, neither joining 
in, nor noticing, the screams of delight with 
which she watched and endeavoured to 
seize the pigeons that were picking up the 
grain around her. 

"Miss St. Maur! Miss St. Maur! come 
back directly ;" called the fat nurse, wad- 
dling towards the place where they stood. 



CLARE ABBEY. 69 

" Your mamma never does allow the stable- 
yard, as you know very well." 

" But I must look at the pigeons, nurse. 
Look there ! look there ! " clapping her 
hands, and screaming, as seven or eight 
flew together, with one movement and one 
sound, to the top of the pigeon-house. 
" Oh, nurse, what a nice place this is ! 
how glad I am papa bought it. I like it 
fifty times better than our stupid old house." 

"And in a week, Camilla, you will be 
wishino' for a new one asain," Reginald 
said, still gravely. 

" And if I do," replied the child, look- 
ing wistfully up in his face, " what does it 
matter ? Why shouldn't I wish, and what is 
it that makes you cross to-night, Reginald?'* 

" I 'm not cross," he said, with an em- 
phasis on the word. 

" Now, Mr. St. Maur, do you please to take 
Miss St. Maur into the garden. Here comes 
the carriage, and the stablemen, and the 
servants, and it isn't at all a proper place 
for a young lady." 

" I 'm not a young lady, nurse, and I 



70 CLARE ABBEY. 

won't be a young lady. But I '11 go into 
the garden with Reginald, if he likes it 
better, and if he will play with me there. 
Come along," seizing his hand; "do come 
along ; and goodbye you pretty pigeons till 
to-morrow." 

But when they reached the garden, Re- 
ginald was as indisposed for play as he had 
been before. He sate down on a garden- 
seat, looking about him with an air of grave 
contemplation, while the child flew from 
bed to bed, from bush to bush, from vista 
to vista, in an ecstasy of delight. She came 
at last, — her bonnet throAvn back, her long 
curls floating, her cheeks crimson, — and 
threw herself at her brother's feet. 

" Oh, Reginald ! what do you sit here for, 
and what is the matter, you silly, silly boy?" 

'' I was thinking of the people who are 
gone away, Camilla." 

" What people ? " and she looked up 
eagerly in his face. 

" Didn't you hear what Margaret was 
telling me last night, about the lady and 
the boy who used to live here?" 



CLARE ABBEY. 71 

" No, I didn't. What sort of a boy ? was 
he as big as you? " 

" I don't know. Margaret said a boy ; 
and she said he was fonder of this place 
than ever you can be, Camilla, and that 
it had quite broken his heart to leave it. 
I know she made me wish never to come 
near the place." 

" How does a heart break, Reginald ? 
Does it crack? " 

" I don't know what it does ; but I feel 
what she means by it. She said he had 
everything in the world that he could wish 
for ; and such a pony, that knew him, and 
ate out of his hand ; and all the people so 
fond of him, that when he went, everybody 
was crying, she said, as if they had lost a 
child. ..." 

" Then, what a silly boy to go," Camilla 
said, emphatically, 

" But he couldn't help it. Margaret said 
they were too poor to live here any longer, 
and that the boy must go and learn to earn 
his bread." 

" What is, to earn his bread ? " 



72 CLARE ABBEY. 

'•To work, I suppose, Camilla; not to 
play any more." 

" Oh, poor, poor boy ! "she said, pityingly. 

" I should not mind the working, Camilla ; 
but the going away and never coming back ; 
and leaving all his things, his dogs, and his 
pony, and . . . ." 

•' Oh, look, look at the pigeons! " screamed 
Camilla, jumping up and running along the 
lawn, while the pigeons flew over her head. 

" I wish we never had left Evesham," said 
Reginald, gloomily, as she rejoined him; 
" I never shall feel at home here. I feel 
as if I was taking the boy's things." 

" I dare say he has got a prettier place, 
as we have," suggested Camilla, consol- 
ingly. 

" No, he hasn't. He 's gone to London, 
to live in a dirty street." 

" Oh ! I wish we could go to London, too. 
Mamma says they have such pretty things 
— such dogs, and horses, and dolls, and 
teathings. What a happy boy to go to 
London ! " 



CLARE ABBEY. 73 

Was Ernest De Grey happy in London ? 
In answer to some such question regarding 
one of his heroines, Walter Scott has beau- 
tifully answered : " Reader, she was happy ; 
for, whatever may be alleged to the con- 
trary, by the scomer and the sceptic, to 
each duty performed there is assigned a 
degree of mental peace, and high conscious- 
ness of honourable exertion, corresponding 
to the difficulty of the task accompHshed. 
That rest of the body which succeeds to 
hard and industrious toil, is not to be com- 
pared to the repose which the spirit enjoys 
under similar circumstances." The truth 
of this passage few will be disposed to 
doubt; and yet I am bound to say, that 
it was not perfectly exemplified in the case 
of Ernest de Grey. He had behaved most 
nobly. To his father, to his mother, — in all 
the painful tasks that were assigned him, 
wdthout a word of miu-mur or repining — 
he had shown the same generous, dutiful 
disposition, which had characterized his 
childish years. He did not think of him- 
self; he spoke little of the past, cheerfully 



74 CLARE ABBEY. 

of the present, hopefully of the future ; and 
after the evenmg of the first announcement, 
even his mother's eyes failed to read how 
deeply the sacrifice was felt. But when the 
excitement was over, and they were esta- 
blished in a small house, in one of those 
dull, uniform streets beyond the gay-look- 
ing world of Belgravia, his spirits and his 
resolution began to sink. He was too young, 
perhaps, to feel in its full force the blessing 
which the peace of an approving conscience 
brings, too restless with regrets for the past, 
and dreams of the future, to feel peace ^ in 
thoughts of peace of any kind. He could, 
as many can, heroically submit to one great 
trial ; but he failed, as many fail, in the 
smaller trials of everyday existence. 

Accustomed to the freedom of a country 
life, fond of all sports and active amuse- 
ments, his spirit began to rebel against the 
imprisonment of London. He could have 
borne it, however, and borne it well, if there 
had been a prospect of future release ; but 
one word, which once inadvertently had 
fallen from his father's lips, haunted his 



CLAKE ABBEY. 75 

imagination and oppressed his spirits night 
and day. That one -w^ord was clerh. To 
be tied to a desk in London for ever ! — 
every feeling within him revolted from such 
a destiny. And yet jDerhaps even to this 
he would have taught himself to submit, if 
it had not been for the sudden reawakening 
of an old fancy, after a slumber of many 
years. Superseded by the love of his home, 
suppressed by the perfect satisfaction found 
in that home for all the adventurous tastes 
and active habits of his boyhood, his martial 
ardour had been lulled to rest — but it did 
but sleep ; springing up in the monotony 
of the present, consoling for the disappoint- 
ment of the past, it took possession of his 
fancy with a violence that startled and 
mastered him, gilding the future with 
visions as glittering as they were idle and 
delusive. He knew that it was impossible, 
during liis father's lifetime . Thek only means 
of support was his mother's fortune, a sum 
of £13,000 ; and the purchase of commis- 
sions from an annual income of barely £400 
a year, even his vague imagination told him 



76 CLARE ABBEY. 

was not a very practicable scheme ; but the 
imagination, especially of the young, is little 
bounded by the limits of possibility. Good 
sense and good feeling kept him silent; 
neither by word nor look did he betray the 
secret of his heart's desire, but satisfied 
with this exertion, he repaid himself for the 
sacrifice by dreaming a never-ending dream. 
Instead of battling with the excitement of 
his mind, he fed- it by every means in his 
power. Wherever soldiers were to be seen, 
or sounds of military music were to be 
heard, there his steps were wandering. 
Day by day unfailingly he presented himself 
at the Horse-Guards, to watch the mounting 
of the guard ; hour after hour he would hang 
about Apsley-House, for one look at the 
Duke of Wellington — then would return 
home, to wile away the long dull evening by 
the perusal of the lives of highwajmien, 
pirates, and other celebrated and adven- 
turous characters (picked up for a few pence 
at a book-stall), which sent him to bed in a 
fever at once of excitement and despair. 
So he passed the early days of his life in 



CLARE ABBEY. 77 

London ; dissatisfied with all around him, 
and most of all dissatisfied with himself. 

jVIrs. De Grey saw her son's failing spirits 
and sighed : of the cause of his greatest 
depression slie was not aware. She did not 
know that the word ''clerk" had reached 
his ears ; for ]Vir. De Grey, unaccustomed to 
deal openly with Ernest, had forbidden the 
mention of the plan, until some hope of its 
success could be obtained, — and Ernest in 
the dread of hearing the certainty of his 
doom, forbore to make an inquiry. But 
she could guess from his restless deport- 
ment, the hopes and fears, the dreams and 
regrets that were agitating him, and she 
sighed. But though she sighed, it was for 
him, not over him. She w^as not one of 
those who groan at the least failure in 
human perfection — experience had taught 
her that, with rare exceptions, it is through 
mental struggle and mental failure that the 
character is formed and perfected ; and 
though she sighed for him during the pro- 
cess — though she could not but si^i^h that 
disappointment should so early cloud his 



75 CLARE ABBEY. 

sunny brow and buoyant spirit — she felt no 
fear, no despondency as to the ultimate 
result. 

One night, Ernest went to bed fresh from 
the attractive and exciting annals of the life 
of Claude Duval. Though within a day or two 
of November, the night was hot and close, 
and Ernest could not sleep ; he tossed to 
and fro, restless and excited, and, turn where 
he would, the word clerk presented itself to 
his eyes. There is, I think, no madness or 
wildness to be compared to the insanity of 
even the sanest of mortals in the course of 
a restless night. Small things assume such 
immense importance in the mind — the 
future, whether the dreams of that future be 
joyfiil or sorrowful, swells into such extra- 
ordinary magnitude. For " a solution of a 
bright hope," it seems impossible to wait — 
a trial, a coming or a fancied trial it seems 
impossible to bear ; we appear to have 
suddenly become all sensation, and with 
giant feelings to be waiting, or preparing 
for gigantic events. In such a mood of 
mind and such a state of nerves, Ernest was 



CLARE ABBEY. 79 

lying on this restless night, when there 
passed before him in dreamy ^dsion, but in 
giant proportions, the life of a clerk : — he 
saw himself rising in the morning to the 
impenetrable gloom of a yellow November 
fog (it was in the month of November, that 
his imaginary life chose to picture itself), he 
saw himself at breakfast in the small dark 
dining-room of their present habitation ; 
through the dismal misty streets he followed 
himself at ten o'clock to his office — there he 
passed his day in the midst of figures which 
it made his brain ache even to think of. He 
accompanied himself back to his home, 
when the scanty daylight had long since 
faded ; and there with dizzy eyes and a 
bewildered brain, endeavoured to wile away 
six weary hours till night and sleep should 
come to his release. Again, and again, and 
again the vision passed before his fancy, till 
at length he saw himself a decrepid old 
man, feebly tottering along the streets to 
his hateful and hated task. I hope my 
readers can imagine the horrors of a life 
like this when presented through the mag- 



80 CLARE ABBEY. 

nifying-glass of sleepless and feverish eyes. 
Poor Ernest turned from side to side, 
endeavouring to find one ray of light to 
gild his dreary picture, but in vain; not 
even a sunshiny morning would come at his 
call. He sprang out of bed, looked round 
his tiny room, rushed to the window, and by 
the faint moonlight gazed upon the rows of 
roofs and chimneys, — the only prospect com- 
manded by his room; then drawing back 
with a feeling of despair, and stamping with 
his foot upon the ground, he pronounced that 
it could not^ and it should not he. If no 
other means of escape offered themselves he 
would enhst as a private soldier and win his 
way to distinction. He returned to bed 
calmed in mind, and possessed by the 
beauty of the new vision. Unlike the last — 
colours, bright colours, came thick and fast 
to add to its brightness. His late studies, 
which probably suggested the idea, suggested 
also the pictures in which to adorn it ; he 
saw himself an object of interest and admira- 
tion ; his short probation was quickly over, 
he was received amongst the officers, distinc- 



CLARE ABBEY. 81 

tions were showered upon him; he was 
captain, major, colonel, in less time than it 
takes to write the words, and he fell into a 
sweet sleep, a general officer in full uniform, 
leading on his troops to victory. 

These seem childish dreams, but Ernest's 
mind was youthful enough to be lulled and 
dazzled by dreams even more childish than 
these. He was still nothing but a boy. 

With the dawn of day, something of the 
brilliancy of his last consolatory vision 
faded; nothing is more disappointing than 
a morning light on a midnight picture ; but 
still, even considered in the sober colours of 
morning, it retained enough of its beauty 
and promise to induce him to repeat with 
calm resolve the feverish determination 
of his restless hours ; it should be his last 
resource, but a resource it should be. 

In such a mood and with such a purpose, 
he went down to breakfast; his night and 
morning meditations had made him late, and 
breakfast was half over before he appeared. 
His father was laughing as he entered the 
room ; rather an unusual and as it might have 

VOL. I. G 



82 CLARE ABBEY. 

seemed a gratifying occurrence ; but Ernest 
was in no laughing mood, and irritated by 
the sound, he hurriedly kissed his mother, 
and sat down without raising his eyes. 

"Half-past nine, Ernest," said Mr. De 
Grey looking at his watch, " tliis will never 
do." 

Ernest finished the sentence to himself as 
he fancied had been intended, ^'^ never do for 
a cleric^'' and he answered his father with 
some petulance. 

" Are you ill, Ernest?" inquired his mother 
gravely. Ernest looked up and met her 
anxious affectionate gaze; his irritation van- 
ished in a moment, and he said, colouring 
crimson, 

" Not ill, mother ; but I am afraid a little 
cross." 

'' And why cross, my dear boy ? " she 
asked smilingly. 

He shook his head and said no more. 

" Your father was laughing, Ernest, as you 
came in, at a strange letter I have had ; it 
partly concerns you — will you read it?" 

As she spoke she put into his hand, with 



CLARE ABBEY. 83 

a quiet smile, a strangely scrawled and 
tumbled letter. 

Ernest looked over it, and as he read his 
colour deepened and his heart began to 
beat ; it was as follows : — 

" Berners- street, Oct. 26. 

"My Dear Gertrude, — You don't re- 
member me ; but I remember you. The 
last time I saw you, you were in a dirty 
pinafore. I know it was a dirty pinafore ; 
your parents didn't bedizen you as the new 
generation are bedizened ; I hate the sight 
of them. Since I saw you I have been in 
India, and now I am come back. Because 
I say I have been in India, don't you sup- 
pose that I'm come back a Nabob. I'm 
not. I've got enough and that's all. I 
want to see you and your son. I suppose 
he is a young man by this time. I hate 
young men \ they're all coxcombs ; empty- 
headed coxcombs ; very diiferent to tlic 
young men in my day ; but as he's your son, 
and my old and best friend's grandson, I 
want to see him. Come and see me if vou 
G 2 



84 CLAKE ABBEY. 

think it worth while. I've heard of your 
misfortunes and I'm sorry for them, but I 
can't help you. I tell you at once I've got a 
relation, and I shan't cut him out for any- 
body. But I shall be glad to see you and 
your son, if you think it worth while to visit 
an old, wizened, paralytic scarecrow. 
" Your father's old friend, 

"Mark Watts." 

" Shall we go, Ernest?" asked his mother 
quietly. 

He looked at her in astonishment ; bright 
visions were dancing before his eyes. 

" Yes, I think you have no doubt," she 
said smiling ; and the letter was folded up, 
and the conversation changed. 



CLARE ABBEY. 85 



CHAPTER VL 

Moments there are in life — alas ! how few 

When casting cold prudential doubts aside, 

We take a generous impulse for our guide ; 

And following promptly what the heart thinks best, 

Commit to Providence the rest ; 

Sure that no after reckoning will arise 

Of shame or sorrow — for the heart is wise. 

Oliver Newman. 

The following day, Mrs. De Grey and 
Ernest set off for Berners-street. She said 
little as they went along, and that little was 
rather intended to damp than to excite his 
expectations. She herself scarcely knew 
what to hope or think ; that he intended 
to do something for Ernest she could not 
but suppose, but the idea that presented 
itself, " India," was a saddening one to her. 
Of Mr. Watts himself she had little re- 
membrance, though with the once familiar 
name visions began to return of a little old 



86 CLARE ABBEY. 

man, — so her fancy pictured him, — who used 
to kiss and pinch her cheeks somewhat too 
heartily. 

They reached the door, rang the bell, 
and were admitted by an old servant, who 
shut them into a room without a fire, and 
with both windows open. 

Mrs. De Grey sat down ; Ernest wandered 
restlessly about, gazed at some stuffed birds 
without seeing them ; stared at the clock, 
and wondered what o'clock it was, without 
perceiving that the clock had stopped and 
the hands were off. 

At last the door was opened, and the 
little wizened, paralytic old man was 
wheeled into the room. He took no notice 
till the door was shut, and the servant 
gone, then, quietly stretching out his hand, 
he said, "How d'ye do, Gertrude?" 

Something of old familiarity, of former 
days and former friendship, stole over Mrs. 
De Grey at the sight of him. 

There is so strange a freshness in the 
remembrance of the friends of our early 
years, that of them it may be truly said, 



CLARE ABBEY. 87 

'' There is no sucli thing as forgetting possi- 
ble." The memory may seem to be effaced 
for a time, but when it does awake, it 
awakes perfect, as it was : there is nothing 
to be done ; we meet as we parted. No 
after friendships have this peculiarity. 

" The friendships of our youth are often seen 
To share the freshness of those vernal years, 
And spite of hardening trials, withering cares, 
Deep in the heart to blossom ever green ; 
Needing but few soft breezes sweeping o'er, ' 
To bid them lift their heads and bloom once more." 

" You see we have obeyed you,*' she said 
with a smile, as she drew her chair nearer 
to him. 

"Ah! Gertrude," he said, looking at her 
and shaking his head ; " I shouldn't have 
kno^^Ti you. Where is the dirty pinafore 
and the long fair hair?" 

She smiled, and then sighed. Her thoughts 
were flowing strangely back to the merry 
days of her childhood; and upon her ear 
there came the sound of a light laughing 
voice, long hushed in death. 

The old man contemplated her, and his 
thoughts seemed to follow liers. He held 



88 CLARE ABBEY. 

out his shrivelled hand again ; in the move- 
ment his head turned, and his eyes fell on 
Ernest, who had withdrawn himself to the 
window. 

"Who's that?" he said in a startled voice. 

Mrs. De Grey roused herself, and looked 
up. The shrivelled hand was pointing at 
Ernest, and the small grey eyes were dart- 
ing from under the pent and shaggy brows. 

" That is Ernest, my son," she said. 

The head dropped, and the eyes closed, 
and he remarked mournfully, " The old 
dotard thought it was Harry." 

" He is like — very like — " said Mrs. De 
Grey, almost for the first time struck with 
the greatness of the likeness. 

" Ah ! Gertrude," exclaimed the old man 
again; and he dashed his slirivelled hand 
across his eyes. " But this is behaving 
like an old doting fool. Come here, young 
man ; let me look at you." 

Ernest approached, and stood before him, 
too much occupied in examining the strange 
old being to feel awkward beneath his 
scrutiny. 



CLAKE ABBEY. 89 

"What is your name, young man?" he 
began, like the Catechism. 

"Ernest." 

" That's a fool's name ; I'm ashamed of 
you, Gertrude." 

" It is my husband's name," she said with 
a smile. 

" The more fool he ! Why isn't he Mark, 
or John, or Thomas? I hate your new- 
fangled names. How old are you, Mr. 
P^rnest?" 

" Sixteen." 

" It's a bad age, now-a-days at least ; all 
the boys think they are men ; empty-headed 
coxcombs, I hate the sight of them ! Look 
there ! " he said, nodding his head out of 
window ; " look at him ! five-foot high, and 
a cigar in his mouth — addling his brains 
with smoke — thinks himself a king. Draw 
down the blinds, Mr. Ernest ; I hate the 
sight of him !" 

Ernest obeyed, laughing. 

" Sit down, young man, I want to speak 
to you. What did you come here for?" 



90 CLARE ABBEY. 

and he fixed his penetrating eyes on tlie 
boy's face. 

Ernest coloured, and laughed again. 

"Did you expect to get anything out of 
me? answer me that." 

Youth, it is said, is acute in perception. 
Mrs. De Grey might have been puzzled to 
answer this home question ; but Ernest, 
without apparent thought or reflection upon 
what it would be best to say, answered 
steadily, though with a colour mounting to 
his temples : — 

"Not expected^ but hojped.'' 

"You did, did you," exclaimed the old 
man in extreme delight. "Well, young 
man, j^ou shan't be disappointed. I can't 
do much, but I'll do something. I know you 
think I'm rich ; I'm not, I tell you ; I've 
just enough, and that's all. I hate your 
money making ; I always did. I might have 
had more, if I pleased, but I didn't want it; 
and if I had it I shouldn't give it you. I tell 
you I shouldn't ! I like young men to work. 
Now listen to me, Mr. Ernest. There are 
l)ut two professions in the world — so I think, 



CLARE ABBEY. 91 

at least. I hate your lawyers ; they're all 
rogues. I hate your physicians ; they're all 
quacks. Sailors are necessary evils ; I hate 
their noise ; I've had enough of them. 
There are but two, the army and the 
church : fight for your country, or take 
your countrymen to Heaven. Now, Mr. 
Ernest, listen to me. I give you your choice ; 
I'll buy you a commission, or I'll send 5'ou 
to college, as you please ; take your choice ; 
but mind this, if I buy a commission, it mil 
be in a good marching regiment : I'll have 
none of your Guards, none of your swag- 
gering puppies ; you shall see the world — 
work your way. Now take your choice." 

Ernest sat with downcast eyes ; he would 
not, dared not speak, but his heart was 
beating as if it would have leapt from the 
feeble bonds that withheld it. The object 
of his existence was attained : the loss of 
what he had so much loved had been then 
but to bring him to this, the gratification of 
the first and strongest passion of his nature. 

There was a silence — a short one, but it 
seemed an age. It was broken by ]\Irs. De 



92 CLARE ABBEY. 

Grey. With her quiet smile, and soft voice, 
and with that steady, serene manner which 
is so often a covering to deep emotion and 
inward struggle, she said, 

"We shall not be long in making a 
choice; Ernest is already in heart a soldier." 

" I didn't speak to you, Gertrude," cried 
the old man sharply ; " let Mr. Ernest speak 
for himself" 

There are moments in life — single mo- 
ments in duration, — yet in their consequences 
so weighty, in operation so wonderful, so 
full of thought, feeling, and action, that they 
seem to rise out of time, and to belong 
rather to that state of being when time shall 
be no more. Such a moment was that now 
passed by Ernest De Grey. In that moment 
he lived whole years of life ; thought as he 
never had thought before ; pondered upon 
life, and its meaning ; weighed, conquered, 
armed himself; caught from his mother her 
quiet spirit of self-conquest ; and calling 
into memory all her love for liim, repaid 
it with a love and devotion which contained 
within itself the sacrifice of his existence. 



CLAEE ABBEY. 93 

It was but a moment ; he then looked up 
at the old man, and said, 

" I choose the Church." 

" Ernest !" exclaimed his mother in a 
tone of warning, anxious, loving remon- 
strance. She saw his fading colour, his eye 
averted from herself; she read the sacrifice, 
and for the moment refused to suffer it to 
be made. 

"My dear Gertrude, will you be still?" 
said the old man impatiently ; " Mr. Ernest 
is old enough to decide for himself. Don't 
you speak another word. Well, young man, 
is your mind made up ; I ask once more, 
and once only. I '11 have no shifting and 
shuffling afterwards. Take your choice." 

" My mind is quite made up," Ernest re- 
peated. He got up, approached his mother 
and kissed her ; and then looking at her 
with his clear, truthful eyes, said, " I know 
that you think I have made a great sacrifice ; 
but, mother, it is no sacrifice since I feel 
that it pleases you." 

Mrs. De Grey raised her eyes to his face, 
but said nothing ; not for worlds would she 



94 CLARE ABBEY. 

have further opposed his will ; not ibr 
worlds w^ould she have refused the offer- 
ing he made to her love, not for worlds 
would she have deprived him of the blessing 
that rests upon the conquest of a selfish 
passion ; and yet she felt at the moment a 
very certain truth, that there is often as 
much heroism in submitting to the fulfilment 
of our wishes as there is in conquering them. 

The old man held out his hand ; Ernest 
took it and thanked him. 

"I won't be thanked!" he cried, impa- 
tiently ; " what are thanks good for ? I hate 
them. Do your duty, young man, and I 
shall be thanked enough. But that wasn't 
what I 'd got to say ; what I 'd got to say 
was this." He paused, and taking the young, 
healthful, vigorous hand between his trem- 
bling, shrivelled fingers, continued with a 
slow, reverent manner, " God bless you, Mr. 
Ernest ! anay the blessing of an old man 
rest upon you all your life long ! It isn't 
a light thing — don't forget that you have 
had it. And now go away," he dropped his 
hand ; "go away both of you, and never 



CLARE ABBEY. 95 

come again. I don't want to see you any 
more. Go away, Gertrude, and mind what 
I say ; don't come again. I tell you I won't 
see you," he said, raising his voice impati- 
ently, as a few words of earnest remonstrance 
fell from Mrs. De Grey. " I know what 
I wish, and I will have my way. I will 
have no sweet, young, loving, innocent faces 
to tie me and bind me to the world I want 
to get free from. Go away — go away, 
and never come again. I won't see you, 
I tell you, — I won't. I turn away the first 
servant who lets you into the house." He 
waved his hands impatiently, till alarmed 
at his excitement, they both left the room. 
He kept his word, — he saw them no more. 



96 CLARE ABBEY. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Though, as you have said, the vernal bloom 
Of his first spirits fading, leaves him changed, 
'Tis not to worse. His mind is as a meadow 
Of various grasses, rich and fresh beneath. 
But o'er the surface some that come to seed 
Have cast a colour of sobriety. 

Edwin the Fair. 

Let us go forth, and resolutely dare 

In sweat of brow to toil our little day ; 

And if a tear flow on our task of care 

In memory of those spring hours past away . . 

Brush it not by ! 

Our hearts to God, to brother men 

Aid, labour, blessing, prayer, and then 

To these, a sigh. 

R. M. MiLNES. 

Time flies. This is sometimes a truism, 
trite, uimieaning, and common-place ; and 
sometimes a truth of very serious import. 
At the present moment, the latter character 
may certainly be claimed for the remark. 



CLARE ABBEY. 97 

for we have to fly rapidly over a large space 
of time, and a large portion of life. Ten years 
have come and gone, — ten years of youth 
and vigour, — ten years full of feeling, and 
full of event, had we the time to dwell upon 
them. 

It was at the end of these ten years, and 
again at the close of a beautiful August 
evening, that Ernest De Grey stood on the 
brow of the hill which overlooked his former 
home, on the very spot which had witnessed 
the announcement of his lost hopes, and his 
altered destiny. 

It is difficult exactly to define in what 
romance consists ; but there are events in 
life, peculiar combinations of circumstances 
to which the epithet romantic is at once, 
and without thought, apphed. These events 
need not be strange or startling ; they may 
be brought about in the easiest and most 
natural manner ; the steps which lead to the 
combination may be each in themselves 
obvious and commonplace ; and yet qver 
the whole there rests a halo — a poetic 
colouring, which is felt by the most un- 

VOL. I. H 



98 CLARE ABBEY. 

poetic and insensible. Something, no doubt, 
there is in the character of the persons to 
whom such events occur ; for there are per- 
sons whose cold hands and shallow glances 
turn all they touch, and all that is spread 
before them into dryness and insipidity. It 
would, however, have required a very re- 
markable degree of coldness and dr}Tiess to 
dissipate the romantic colouring which 
rested on the circumstance (although no- 
thing could be simpler or more common- 
place than the events which led to it), that 
Ernest De Grey was appointed to the living 
of the parish in which his former home 
stood. This appointment was, as it seemed, 
a mere chance. He was a curate in an 
adjoining county, but there was a distance 
of thirty miles between his new and his 
old abode. He was invited by his rector 
to accompany him on a visit to the bishop 
of the diocese. The visit lasted but a few 
hours. Ernest spoke little, and little was 
said to him. He was not aware, — his rector 
was not aware, — that he had excited any 
peculiar degree of attention ; yet a few 



CLARE ABBEY. 99 

weeks afterwards the living of the Parish 
of Cranleigh was offered to the young curate : 

" A chance it seem'd to be, 
But such a chance as rules our destiny." 

And once more Ernest stood and gazed 
upon the beauty of his lost inheritance ; — 
and fondly and admiringly his eye wandered 
round ; but the bound of the heart with 
which he had heard of his destiny, — but the 
rapture with which he had contemplated a 
return to the scenes of his youth was stilled 
and faded now. He stood and gazed, but 
his heart was heavy, and his thoughts were 
joyless and sad. 

We are, I think, too much disposed to 
look upon the clergy as an order of men 
separate from ourselves ; not separate in 
that sense in which we should so re^rard 
them, separated by a peculiar seal and sanc- 
tity, but separate in nature : we are not, I 
mean, disposed to allow for them the tempta- 
tions and infirmities of a common humanity ; 
we are too much inclined to suppose that 
the vows which sever them from their fel- 
lows, withdraw them also from the trials and 
h2 



100 CLARE ABBEY. 

failures common to all in fi^htinf? a<rainst 
" the world, the flesh, and the devil." So 
at least it has always seemed to me, when 
the errors, negligences, and infirmities of 
those who, while they are clergy, still are 
men, are dwelt upon by a harsh-judging 
world. 

Ernest De Grey was not one who would 
have fulfilled the perfect ideal of what a 
clergyman should be. As a child, as a boy, 
he had been what has been happily called 
"very human;" and very human he was 
still. The life he led was a life opposed to 
every feeling and natural impulse within 
him ; and though he struggled manfully to 
submit himself to it, there were many 
hours Avhen his spirit was bowed by the 
weight of unwelcome responsibility ; and 
when his fancy revolted from the picture of 
the perpetual struggle and warfare before 
him. He was one of those separated by 
the seal of Heaven from their fellow men ; 
but many unmarked by that seal were less 
tied and bound to earth than he, by the 
weight of a craving earth-loving nature. 



CLAKE ABBEY. 101 

He had never repented of the resolution 
so suddenly taken in the old man's room, — 
he would have repeated it again and again : 
but that resolution had been taken not from 
any call he had felt to duties so serious, to 
an office so holy, but simply from a motive 
of love and duty to his mother ; and that 
motive being but a human motive, was not 
at all times sufficiently powerful to animate 
him amidst the painful, and often thankless, 
tasks to which he was called to devote him- 
self. Let it not be supposed that Ernest 
should be blamed for having undertaken 
a responsibility so solemn, from a. human 
motive. That motive, filial duty, is in itself 
so pure, is from " passion's dross so refined 
and clear," so contains within itself the 
germ of all religious feeling, that none 
have ever acted upon it, in any course 
of duty, or condition of life, and failed to 
find a blessing. It is but the statement — a 
fact, — it was a human motive ; and though 
sufficiently powerful to prevent his resolution 
from wavering, it could not at all times tiu-n 



102 CLARE ABBEY. 

his repulsive tasks into a labour of love and 
delight. 

There was no want of seriousness in the 
manner in which Ernest first prepared for, 
and finally entered upon his labours. Once 
resolved, he endeavoured as best he could 
to render himself not unworthy the holy 
office he held. His mind was so true and 
sincere, that there was no tampering with 
his conscience, — no excusing himself under 
the plea of natural unfitness ; so far as he 
saw his duties, he tried to fulfil them. He 
was not perhaps very quick in discovering 
them : other eyes might see them straight 
before him, and he might pass them by ; 
but once beheld, they were firmly and un- 
shrinkingly performed. On minds of this 
character a blessing must ever rest ; for 
there is nothing to be compared in value 
to truth and sincerity of heart. But im- 
provement is a gradual process : day by 
day the strife of inclination with duty has 
to be renewed ; and they are strong indeed 
who never faint and are weary. Ernest 



CLARE ABBEY. 103 

had not this strength : he was far, still very 
far, from perfection ; his duties were to him 
but duties still, hard oftentimes and labori- 
ous : his life was warfare still ; his future, a 
future still on which his eyes scarcely dared 
to rest. 

Since last we met him he had passed from 
boyhood into manhood ; and the deepened 
expression of his countenance, and the sub- 
dued and even serious quietness of his man- 
ners bore witness to the change. But the 
change was not very deep, — in heart he was 
still a boy : the thirst for happiness was still 
as strong, the tastes of his boyhood still 
springing up as fresh and vigorous within 
him. It was not therefore strange that as 
he stood and gazed upon the scenes of his 
free and happy youth, — as he thought of the 
days when the name of duty had been a 
light and unfelt burden, his spirits should 
sink and a cloud of unusual melancholy 
settle about his head. 

Fully, however, to understand his mood 
of mind, more perfectly to pourtray his 
character, and to reveal him in all the 



104 CLARE ABBEY. 

weakness and humanity of his nature, we 
must go back to an earher hour of the day, 
and bear him company on his first arrival 
at his new home. 

It was about four o'clock Avhen he dis- 
mounted from a post-chaise, and entered the 
parsonage house. It was a pretty low-roofed 
picturesque building with a green lawn be- 
fore it, and a flower-garden on one side. 
It stood at the borders of the village, thirty 
or forty yards from the road, shadowed 
from the heat by fine spreading oaks, and 
guarded from intrusive eyes by a well- 
covered trelHced paling. In former days 
he had often regarded it with admiration; 
of late he had often thought of it with plea- 
sure, but as he entered it now he sighed. 
It was in all the dreary discomfort and 
untidiness of a new arrival ; and although 
such a state of things is to some minds an 
incentive to exertion, and an agreeable ex- 
citement, it was not so to liim. He was not 
luxurious, — he had never been so : but he 
liked comfort, — he liked domestic comfort, 
he liked to feel at home. He walked into 



CLARE ABBEY. 105 

the lonely drawing-room, and sighed again. 
He was now to live alone ; and of late he 
had thought of this with much pleasm^e — (for 
although naturally of a joyous and elastic 
disposition, he was fastidious in his tastes ; 
not endowed with superhuman patience when 
those tastes were offended ; and much had 
suffered mider the trite remarks and harm- 
less, but unmeaning pleasantries of the good 
dull rector, with whom he had hitherto 
resided) : but now as he entered the dis- 
orderly room, a sense of desolation made his 
heart sink. And while still looking about 
him with a gaze of blank despair, his tem- 
per was assailed, and well-nigh overcome, 
by the worry of domestic cares, and the 
demand upon his wandering attention for 
considerations of household economy. In 
short, the first effect of the return to scenes 
which, at a distance, he had pictured as 
" redolent with joy and youth," was far from 
bringing with it the fresh and joyous feeling 
of ^' a second spring." 

" Pray have these boxes carried away, it 
l(joks so uncomfortable," he said to the lady 



106 CLARE ABBEY. 

who had been selected from the village to 
preside over his household, as he wandered 
round the carpetless drawing-room, strewed 
as it was with hay and straw, paper, and 
lids of boxes. 

"I can't do it myself, sir," replied Mrs. 
Cook, who was heated with scrubbing and 
unpacking, and who among her many vir- 
tues did not boast of an impurturbable 
temper ; " and Thomas says he can't do it, 
and John is looking after the horse." 

"Well, Mrs. Cook, I shall go out for a 
walk ; and if you can get anybody to clear 
the room, I shall be much obliged to 

you." 

" If you please, sir, will you give me the 
keys of the linen-chest? The tilings must 
be got somehow before night ; and there 's 
more to do than a horse could do already." 

" I haven't got the keys." 

" Thomas bade me ask you, sir : he says 
you gave him no keys." 

After a search, the keys were found; and 
Ernest took up his hat and prepared for a 
retreat. 



CLARE ABBEY. 107 

" What do you please to have for dinner, 
sir? " Mrs. Cook began again. 

" Oh, I leave that entirely to you. I sup- 
pose you have ordered something into the 
house? " 

" I did, sir, make so bold, without orders, 
for I got no orders from nobody. And 
where will you please to dine ; and what 
time, sir, do you please to have dinner 
served up ? It isn't my way, sir, to be with- 
out orders, and it 's more than a servant can 
abear to have no notice taken when she 
does her best." 

" I will take more notice another day," 
Ernest said, good-naturedly. " Put dinner 
where you please, wherever you can find an 
empty table ; and it had better be ready at 
seven o'clock." 

" There 's no end of things wantinp^ in 
the kitchen, sir ; there isn't a boiler to be 
seen, and the jack is in a sad ricketty state, 
and I can't find no pastry-roller nowhere ; 
and to-morrow's Sunday, too ! " 

" Never mind for the present," he said, 
indifferently ; " I suppose we shall get right 



108 CLARE ABBEY. 

in time." And he put on his hat and opened 
the door. 

" There 's been no orders given, sir, about 
the rooms ; there 's been no orders given 
about nothing. I never heard of such a 
way of coming to a place. I made so bold 
as to choose an apartment for myself and 
my small matters ; but Thomas has got no 
orders, and he doesn't know where to lay 
out your honour's things ; and the house 
will all be topsy-turvy, if there isn't some 
notice taken." 

Ernest put down his hat, and followed 
his conductress over the house, agreeing to 
every suggestion she chose to make ; till 
coming to a room a few steps higher than 
the others, from the window of which a 
sight of Clare Abbey might be caught, he 
said, " No, Mrs. Cook, I change my mind : 
this shall be my room." 

" This, sir ? Why, it 's no better than a 
coalhole compared to those more spacious 
apartments. It will do for a young gentle- 
man from college, sir, or for a traveller for 
a night or so, but not for your honour." 



CLABE ABBEY. 109 

" It must do for me," he said, laugiiing, 
" and the travellers shall have the more 
spacious rooms ; " and he stood leaning 
against the window, unheeding the remon- 
strances which were poured upon his ear. 
He was choosing for himself a dangerous, 
induls^ence. How dano;erous he could not 
guess. 

"Is Lord Vere in the country? " he in- 
quired at last. 

" Yes, sir ; his lordship is always in the 
country." 

" Has he many children ? " 

" He has but the two, sir — Mr. St. Maur 
and the young lady." In the anticipation 
of a httle gossip, Mrs. Cook drew nearer, 
and laying aside her state and offended 
dignity, and with her dignity her more 
select phraseology, she continued : " If you 
wants to know about the fam'ly, sir, I can't 
tell you but very little about them ; for 
though they lives here the whole year round, 
they never comes amongst the poor as your 
o-ood mamma used to do. Sometimes I 
sees her ladyship and the young lady in the 



110 CLARE ABBEY. 

bairooche, as they drives through Cranleigh 
now and again ; and now and again I sees 
them at Church : but they isn't very regular 
church-goers, only when Mr. St. Maur is 
at home. He is a very fine young gentle- 
man, sir, and discreet in his ways, I hears ; 
but then he 's as haught and as proud as 
— , I forgets the caparison, sir. Oh ! they 
all wants a deal of good doing to them, 
and a deal of preaching, sir, and that 's the 
truth." 

" We all do that, Mrs. Cook," said Ernest, 
gravely, retreating from the window. There 
was no feeling stronger in his mind than 
charity in his judgments. His sense of his 
own weakness made him, perhaps, even 
faultily tender in dealing with the temp- 
tations and infirmities of others. 

"Well, they does, sir," she said, com- 
placently ; " but some wants it more nor 
others : and I often thinks as I sees my 
lady prancing along in her bairooche, how 
hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom 
of heaven." 

Ernest said no more ; but leaving Mrs. 



CLARE ABBEY. Ill 

Cook to arrange the house, he set off on 
the lonely ramble to which alone his me- 
lancholy mood of mind was suited. Few 
as her words of gossip had been, they had 
excited another train of sad and a new 
train of repining feeling within. He re- 
menibered liis own youthful dreams of 
philanthropy, vague indeed, but dwelt on 
many an hour fondly in his breast. He 
remembered how he had intended to be 
the father of the tenantry ; realizing some 
perhaps never perfectly hiliilled ideal of 
a gentleman of the olden time, — how his 
cares and attentions to their welfare were 
to bring in " a golden year," where there 
was to be no more want, no more distress, 
no more crime. He turned his eye as he 
passed along upon the Church, still dis- 
figured by unsightly additions and mon- 
strous deformities, and he remembered the 
hopes he had once so enthusiastically 
formed of restoring it to the beauty and 
purity of its original proportions ; and 
dreaming as he went, he marvelled why 
the opportunities had been denied to him 



112 CLARE ABBEY. 

which would have been used to the glory 
of God and for the good of man. And 
while he indulged in the easy pleasure of 
imaginative virtue and benevolence, he 
scarcely thought of the holier, if not higher, 
labours to which he had been called. 

He reached the brow of the hill which 
overlooked the valley, and there, leaning 
his back against a gate, he stood with folded 
arms indulging in a luxury of meditation ; 
while unreproved, although unbidden, these 
vague, regretful, distrustful thoughts chased 
each other through his mind. 

He was roused from his reverie by the 
sound of a sweet voice and a musical laugh 
from the high-road. Turning hastily round, 
he observed two figures on horseback ap- 
proaching at a rapid pace. He felt inter- 
ested and excited, and contemplated them 
with much curiosity. One was a young 
man, extremely handsome and aristocratic 
in his appearance, whose proud and stately 
bearing, visible even at a first glance, suited 
well with the lofty style of his beauty. 
The other was a young lady, — very young, 



CLAEE ABBEY. 113 

— she could not be much more than sixteen. 
Her likeness to her companion betrayed at 
once the nature of their relationship ; but 
it was a likeness of a peculiar kind, which 
struck you strangely at first, and was almost 
forgotten afterwards. Her features were 
the same finely-carved regular features — her 
head had the same peculiar stately grace — 
her whole appearance the same air of " pa- 
trician beauty." But in her movements, in 
her countenance, in her large, long-shaped 
hazel eyes, half mischievous, half melan- 
choly, there was a wildness, an airiness, a 
grace, which gave to the character of her 
beauty an expression totally dissimilar. She 
was dressed in a fashion which is, I hope, 
gradually displacing the modern ungraceful 
riding-dress. A prettily-shaped jacket of 
black velvet fell over the skirt of her habit, 
and the long curls of her bright gold, or 
pale auburn hair, floated from beneath a 
low Spanish hat, round which a lace veil 
was loosely streaming. She formed the 
very ideal for the lady of a hawking pic- 
ture of the olden time ; indeed about her 

VOL. I. I 



114 CLAEE ABBEY. 

and about her companion likewise there was 
that idea], poetic, colouring, which one ex- 
presses, perhaps somewhat vaguely by the 
words "looking like a pictm^e." 

In passing the place where Ernest stood, 
the horse of the young lady, either from a 
rut or other obstruction in the road, or from 
some carelessness on the part of the fair 
rider, stumbled, and, for a moment, there was 
danger of her being tlii'own to the ground. 
With one bound, Ernest swung himself over 
tlie gate, and laid his hand upon the bridle ; 
but before he could grasp it, the young 
lady had recovered her seat, and laughingly 
patting the beautiful and penitent creature, 
exclaimed, " Poor Brenda, I wonder whose 
fault it was ! " 

Looking up immediately afterwards, she 
was about to thank Ernest, who had re- 
treated to the side of the road ; but she was 
forestalled by her companion. With some 
haughtiness the young man raised his hat, 
and slightly bending his head, said, 

"My sister is much obliged to you for 
your assistance;" then, stooping down, and 



CLARE ABBEY. 115 

Stroking Brenda's flowing mane, he conti- 
nued, '' Come, Camilla, it is late ;" and im- 
mediately put his own horse in motion. 

The young lady followed without speaking, 
but turning with a smile to Ernest, and a 
flitting blush on her fair cheek, she cour- 
teously bowed her head, her long curls 
sweeping over the horse's neck as she bent, 
and rode away. 

Ernest looked after them mth an eager, 
intense, inquiring gaze, till they were out of 
sight ; he then bounded over the gate, and 
rapidly retraced his steps homewards. But 
he was no longer the same person who had 
so languidly wandered along an hour before. 
He glanced over the valley, and brighter 
than the noon- day sun fell the shadows of 
approaching evening across his path. Where 
was the gloom of despondency, where were 
the cheerless prospects of a life of struggle 
and warfare ? A ray of light had fallen 
across his path, a spark of interest was 
kindling the future into beauty. His hfe, 
which of late he had contemplated as 
"toward evening," shone bright again with 
I 2 



116 CLARE ABBEY. 

"hues of the rich unfoldmg morn." New 
thoughts, new hopes, new strength, new self- 
devotion, new animation, 

" By some soft touch invisible 
Around his path were taught to swell." 

How or wherefore tliis change of temper, 
he could not perhaps himself have explained ; 
yet there was nothing strange or miraculous 
in it. The mere sight of these two beings, 
by fancy easily named, — strangers in their 
individual character, but no strangers to the 
haunts of his imagination : — the sight of 
them in their youth and their beauty, and 
gifted with that lofty high-born air, which so 
strongly appeals to the fancy, this was in 
itself enough to lure him into a futm^e he 
sometimes shrank from contemplating, with 
thoughts of hope, and interest, and compa- 
nionship. But such sudden changes of mood 
are by no means uncommon. Ernest's lively 
and sensitive mind was peculiarly suscep- 
tible of sudden impressions ; for his was 

*' That nature of humanity 
Which both ways doth rebound — rejoicing now 
With soarings of the soul, anon brought low." 



CLARE ABBEY. 117 

But all men — with the exception of a very 
few, who, as Fuller says, " seem to be made 
of one entire bone, without any joints " — are 
as easily acted upon as the chords of the 
^Eolian harp. A fleeting cloud, whose form 
we have scarcely time to seize, passes over 
our brain, and we sink into gloom ; a soft 
breath, coming we know not whence, and 
going we know not where, plays upon the 
cloud, and it dissolves into mist again. 
There are some verses by Hood, which 
quaintly, but prettily, describe one of these 
sudden, insensible changes, from darkness to 
light : 

'* Farewell life ! my senses swim. 
And the world is growing dim ; 
Thronging shadows cloud the light, 
Like the advent of the night. 
Colder, colder, colder still, 
Upward starts a vapour chill ; 
Strong the earthy odour grows, 
I smell the mould above the rose. 

"Welcome life! the spirit strives, 
Strengtli returns, and hope revives ; 
Cloudy fears and sliapes forlorn 
Fly like shadows at the morn ; 
O'er the earth there comes a bloom, 
Sunny light, for sullen gloom ; 
Warm perfume for vapours cold, 
I smell the rose above the mould." 



118 CLARE ABBEY. 

On Ernest's return to the parsonage, he 
found an invitation awaiting him, from which 
he would gladly have freed himself. His 
young curate stood in the doorway, express- 
ing his regTet that duty should have com- 
pelled him to be absent during the afternoon, 
and requesting, with an earnestness which 
would take no denial, that Ernest would 
leave his uncomfortable home, and pass the 
evening with his mother and himself. ]\Irs. 
Cook warmly seconded the propriety of the 
step, and Ernest gave way. He had spent 
four hours of an unceasingly rainy day at the 
house of his curate on the occasion of his 
induction, a month before this time, and the 
remembrance of those four hours were such 
as to make him shrink from a repetition, 
especially on this day, when his mind was 
full of thoughts on the past, the present, and 
the future. But he was one of those people 
who have an innate dislike to a fuss ; and he 
was too happy to escape from Mr. Hervey's 
persuasions and Mrs. Cook's remonstrances 
by a hasty acquiescence. 

Mr. Hervey, the curate, was an amiable 



CLARE ABBEY. 119 

young man, exemplary in his conduct both 
as a son and a clergyman ; but he was dull 
and commonplace, and more tedious than 
dull people usually are, from the insatiable 
desire which possessed him for information. 
From dulness of a talkative narrating kind 
it is easy to escape, the unfettered mind 
wandering pleasantly during the flow of the 
discourse ; but questions are a serious inflic- 
tion. ]\Ir. Hervey's conversation was chiefly 
confined to the interrogative mood. He 
loved information, — not valuable information 
only, but all information. He would ask in 
the same breath the price of a horse and its 
name ; he would follow up a question on an 
abstruse point of geology or astronomy by 
an inquuy as to the relative heights of two 
unconnected individuals ; and the answers to 
every question were laid side by side in his 
mind, comprehensively classed together un- 
der the head of so much information. His 
mother was homely and unrefined ; but she 
had more sense and observation than her 
son, and a goodness of heart with which it 
was impossible not to be pleased. For her 



120 CLAKE ABBEY. 

habit of narration also, often tedious and 
pointless as it was, there was tliis great ex- 
cuse to be made, that it had been acquired, 
and necessarily fixed, during the long course 
of years in which she had been engaged in 
bestowing information on her son. They 
were both, however, considered in the Hght 
of companions, rather serious trials to a pre- 
occupied and wandering mind. 

" Did you make a long journey to-day ? " 
asked Mr. Hervey of Ernest, as they sat 
down to dinner. 

" Yes ; I came from London." 

" Wliat do you suppose to be the exact 
distance from here to London ? " 

" I don't know. I suppose between eighty 
and ninety miles." 

" You came by the railroad, of course ?" 

" Oh yes, of course," Ernest said, smiling. 

" And I dare say you came in five or six 
hours. Wonderful ! wonderful ! " sighed old 
Mrs. Hervey. " I don't know how it may be, 
I hope there is no harm in it ; but I some-, 
times do think it never was intended that 
men should fly through the air as they do 



CLARE ABBEY. 121 

now-a-days. Wlien first I came to this part 
of the country, — we came on a visit to old 
Mr. Hargrave, at the Woods, — it 's fifty years 
ago — I was a girl of eighteen — we were 
tlnree days in coming from London. The 
first night we slept at Henley-on-Thames, 
my father was knocked up even then ; but 
he was an invahd, to be sure ; and the second 
night we slept — where did we sleep, Edward? 
— how strange, that I should forget ! I know 
there was a waiter with a spotty face ; for 
my mother, who was always nervous about 
infection, said, ' I wonder if he has got the 
small-pox.' But, however, that is no matter 
now : and the third night we arrived at the 
Woods." 

Such is a specimen of the conversation 
with which Mr. and Mrs. Hervey entertained 
their guest during dinner and the early part 
of the evening. Ernest exerted himself, 
however, to attend, to control his thoughts 
during some thrice-repeated narrations from 
Mrs. Hervey, and to bear patiently his cu- 
rate's more tedious interrogatories ; and he 
was at length rewarded for his endeavours 



122 CLARE ABBEY. 

by the sudden raising of a subject which 
possessed a strange attraction for him, and 
which a distaste to prying and gossip, joined 
to some other mysterious feehngs, had alone 
prevented him from introducing. 

" What do you suppose to be the prevail- 
ing style of architecture in which Clare 
Abbey is built ? " inquired Mr. Hervey. 

It was the first time that his former home 
had been mentioned, Mrs. Hervey, with more 
tact than her son, leaving the subject for 
Ernest to introduce or not at his pleasure ; 
but the quietness with which he now entered 
upon the discussion convinced her that her 
abstinence (a very painful one) had been 
needless ; and she joyfully seized upon a 
topic on which her tongue had been " itch- 
ing " to expatiate,. 

" Are 5^ou acquainted vntli Lord and Lady 
Vere, Mr. De Grey?" she asked, when the 
architecture had been discussed, and her 
son was satisfied. 

" Not at all," he replied. 

" You are not singular in that respect," 
remarked Mr. Hervey. 



CLARE ABBEY. 123 

" Edward is quite right," rejoined his mo- 
ther. " Nobody can be said to know them. 
I don't know how it is ; we have dined at 
Clare Abbey — how many times, Edward ? — 
three times, I think, in three years, and Lady 
Vere has called here as many times, per- 
haps ; but I don't know how it is, we don't 
know them ; and everybody about here says 
the same thing Lord Vere is never seen. 
Lideed, ]\ir. De Grey, you will have hard 
work : if he comes to chm^ch half a dozen 
times a year, it is all he does do. I hope I 'm 
saying nothing unkind, Edward ; but ^ir. 
De Grey will have eyes as well as we have, 
and the truth is the truth. Lady Vere was 
not much better a year or two ago ; but Mr. 
St. Maur, they say, persuades her to be more 
regular ; and we shall see her to-morrow, as 
he is at home, I don't doubt." 

" Did you ever see the young St. Maurs?'* 
inquired Mr. Hervey. 

" Not unless, as I suppose, I met them 
riding this afternoon." 

" If you met young people riding, Mr. 
De Grey, there's no doubt that you met the 



124 CLARE ABBEY. 

young St. Maurs. When Mr. St. Maur is 
at home, he and his sister are always toge- 
ther riding and walking. Mr. St. Maur is at 
Oxford at present (that is, not at present ; 
you understand, Mr. De Grey, vacation time); 
and he remains there a year longer, I . be- 
lieve. He is remarkably clever as we hear, 
and they say he is to come into Parliament 
in a year or so, and altogether he looks very 
high. It is a sad pity that he is so haughty, 
for there's no doubt but he is a well-dis- 
posed young man ; but that's the way with 
genius in this world. There's not a soul here- 
abouts that he thinks fit to associate with. 
Edward would be very happy to be a com- 
panion when he's not too busy, but if he 
meets him in his walks or his rides, Mr. St. 
Maur bows and asks him how he does, and 
there's an end of it ; — and the young lady 
never leaves her brother when he is at 
home ; and when he's not at home nobody 
knows what becomes of her. She leads a 
sad dull life, poor thing, and she feels it 
I'm sure she does ; but she's a sweet pretty 
creature, — is'nt she, Mr. De Grey?" 



CLARE ABBEY. 125 

" Very pretty," he replied quietly; but lie 
coloured slightly as he spoke, for a quiet 
" very pretty " was not what he had thought 
her. 

" What a strange thing a family likeness 
is ! " remarked Mr. Hervey. 

" Ah ! Edward, you say that because you 
think Miss St. Maur so like her brother; 
but I don't see it. For my part I had rather 
have one like Miss St. Maur, than twenty 
such as that proud young gentleman. It's a 
shame for me to say so, I, Edward's mother 
too, for Mr. St. Maur is far more hope- 
ful and religious, than his sister ; but then 
she's young, Mr. De Grey, and she's a sweet 
pretty creature, and that's the truth ; and 
when she smiles, I could kiss her a hundred 
times over. I never see her, but I think of 
a cousin of my own, dead and gone these 
thu'ty years ; sweet Amy Mills ! She was 
just such another sweet thoughtless thing; 
there was no seriousness in her ! but she fell 
ill before she was twenty, and she bore a 
long painful illness with the patience of a 
young saint as she wa^^ ; and when she died. 



126 CLARE ABBEY. 

for she died in her early youth, she looked 
so lovely, that there was one who said she 
was not a dead child of earth, but a sleeping 
angel of heaven. And I've often seen it ; 
such is the end of those wild sweet heedless 
things. But you are not going, Mr. De Grey ; 
it's early yet." 

"What is the exact hour by your watch,"" 
inquu'ed Mr. Hervey. 

" Nearly ten o'clock ; and I have a good 
deal to arrange to-night." 

" Do you suppose that your time is per- 
fectly correct by London time?" 

With some difficulty, Ernest extricated 
himself from the offered society of Mr. 
Hervey, and walked thoughtfully home 
alone. 



CLARE ABBEY. 127 



CHAPTER VIII. 

There is in souls a sympathy with sounds, 
Some chord in unison with what we hear 
Is touched within us, and the heart replies, 

wherever I have heard 

A kindred melody, the scene recurs, 

And with it all its pleasures and its pains ; 

Such comprehensive views the spirit takes ' 

That in a few short moments I retrace 

The windings of my way through many years. 

COWPER. 

The family at Clare Al3bey, were assem- 
bled at the breakfast table, on the following 
morning. Lord and Lady Yere sate opposite 
each other; one side of the table was 
empty ; on the other side, Camilla St. 
Maur sate, as she always chose to do, by 
her brother. Though there might be 
some few points of similarity, nothing could 
be more dissimilar than the general cha- 
racter, and common habits of these two, and 
yet the affection subsisting between them, 



128 CLARE ABBEY. 

was of that close and devoted kind, which 
is sometimes said to be peculiar to twins, 
but which probably only needs some simi- 
larity of age, and the days of childhood 
passed together. This affection and union 
was the stronger, because in their home, 
they were thro\\Ti entirely upon each other 
lor companionship, meeting with little atten- 
tion from one parent, and finding little 
sympathy in the other. 

Lady Vere's character may, I hope, be 
tolerably well guessed, from the few words 
she has already spoken. She was very 
beautiful, at forty still beautiful, an utter 
want of thought and sensation preserving 
to her all the smoothness and freshness of 
youth. Besides this uncommon beauty, she 
had little to attract, for her only other 
marked qualities, were indolence and folly. 
She was, however, a patient and forbearing 
wife, and though an injudicious, or rather an 
unthinking, yet in her way, was an affec- 
tionate mother. She was proud of her son, 
and had reason to be so, and treated his 
opinions with deference : to her daughter she 



CLARE ABBEY. 129- 

allowed (except on a few points, where some 
strict rules of her own youth, chiefly of bodily 
restraint, were remembered and enforced) 
unlimited indulgence, and if there was no 
s}Tiipathy, there was no want of harmony. 

Lord Vere's character had more expres- 
sion. Lady Vere always called him, " My 
love," but he looked very unlike anybody's 
love, — most of all unlike hers. He was a 
tall, thin, dry-looking man, whose features 
once had been, nay still were, handsome ; 
but were disfigured by an expression of 
mingled sourness and discontent, sternness 
and melancholy. His character in early 
youth had not been without promise ; re- 
sembling, in many of its features, the proud 
aspiring nature which now characterized 
his son ; but his son's ambition was of a 
lofty and generous kind, his own had been 
simply selfish. It might possibly have been 
turned to good ; success, that salutary medi- 
cine to many minds, might have enlarged 
and purified it ; but it was disappointed, 
and it shrank into the recesses of his spirit, 
and turned to sourness. 

VOL, I. K 



130 CLARE AEBEY. 

Many trials await the pride of those who 
at once court and despise their fellows. 
Lord Vere suffered much, but struggled on 
till a blow was struck which raised his pride 
and withered his ambition. He came into 
Parliament ; and if liis heart could ever have 
been said to glow, at that time it glowed, 
— not with the noblest passion, the desire 
of being an instrument of good, yet with a 
not ignoble one, the desire of fame. He de- 
termined to make a figure, to earn a name : 
a question arose on which he felt some in- 
terest ; he took advantage of it ; he devoted 
himself to the study of the subject, made 
himself master of it ; at length rose to speak : 
spoke, — and failed. His manner was hard 
and dry, his arguments, though plausible, 
false, — and words and manner both alike 
were tinged, and more than tinged, with the 
only youthful fault which produces harsh and 
malicious criticism, — arrogance. His speech, 
his argument, nay he himself, was turned 
into ridicule, not only by his opponents in 
the heat of the moment, but by many of 
the leading papers of the day. Stung to the 



CLARE ABBEY. 131 

quick, too proud to retort, too scornful to 
explain, lie withdrew into himself, and ab- 
jured friends, foes, and political life for ever. 
His father's death shortly afterwards chang- 
ing his condition, he retired into the country 
and lived on his o^vn property the life of a 
recluse. So ended his dream of ambition ; 
ever afterwards all generous sentiments, all 
lofty aspirations, if expressed in his presence, 
were crushed with a cold sneer of scorn. 

His second dream was of love ; and from 
love his second disappointment came. It 
might have been said, his friends had 
often said, that love was a passion which 
could find no place in his heart ; but human 
nature is strangely inconsistent, for ever 
escaping from the rules with which we 
endeavour to trammel it ; and so Lord 
Yere, inconsistent as it was with his pre- 
vious habits and openly expressed opini- 
ons, was betrayed, not only into a romantic 
passion, but int) a foolish and romantic 
marriage. He was some years more than 
thirty, when he was ordered to Buxton ior 
his health ; he there saw, admired, and 
k2 



132 CLARE ABBEY. 

voluntarily made acquaintance with a young 
lady of no fortune and no family, but whose 
beauty was of a remarkable and dazzling 
kind. Perhaps the extreme languor and 
softness of her voice and manner were 
soothing to the hardened nature of the man, 
who fancied himself injured by his kind : 
however this might be, he married her after 
a short acquaintance; and so extreme was 
his love and devotion, that it was many 
months before he became aware that the 
lips of his beautiful wife were incapable of 
uttering anything but the most intolerable 
folly — and that she was still more incapable 
of comprehending the fervour of that affec- 
tion, which, overcoming all barriers from 
within and from without, had prevailed to 
make her his wife. Such a discovery once 
made, is made for ever, — the illusion which 
casts a spell over folly, once dispersed, 
returns no more. For the second time Lord 
Vere withdrew into himself, and the spark of 
unselfish feeling which might yet have kind- 
led the dormant energies of liis nature, 
appeared to be extinguished. Henceforward 



CLARE ABBEY. 166 

he lived to himself only, — and the life with 
his own dry self was dreary and uninspiring 
indeed. In vain the beauty, the infantile 
charms, the youthful grace of his daughter — 
in vain the talents and promise of his son — 
he took no heed of them ; and if it was with 
an effort that pride and affection were some- 
times restrained, it was not apparently so. 
He was not an unkind father ; though cold 
and repulsive in manner, in action he was 
rather indulgent than otherwise. Except on 
such points as interfered with his determined 
plan of seclusion, he never thwarted their 
wishes, or their will ; but a wish thwarted 
with an expression of interest is worth, a 
thousand times over, a careless acquiescence 
in our desires, — and so his children felt. 

" You have got a letter, Reginald," ex- 
claimed Camilla, laying her hand on one 
which her brother put down beside him ; 
" where does it come from ? May I read 
it — pray let me read it ?" 

In some houses letters are even too plen- 
tiful; but a letter was a rare sight at Clare 
Abbey. 



134 CLARE ABBEY. 

"It will not interest you, my dear Ca- 
milla." 

" Oh ! yes it mil ; ever}^thing interests 
me that interests you; and besides, I like 
to hear of things that happen in some other 
world than this. Now, let me read it — 
pray do," and she put her hand on his arm. 

He gave her the letter. 

"What is it all about?" she cried, looking 
up with a puzzled look ; " I can't under- 
stand it ! What have you been doing, — and 
what has made a sensation, as the man 
says?" 

" I told you, Camilla, it would not interest 
you," Reginald said, smiling, and he held 
out his hand. 

" But it does interest me, and I "s\dll 
understand it. Now take your hand away, 
for I mean to make it out. Now I begin 
to see ; you have been making a speech, and 
your friend says that it has been so much 
admired, that Somebody Somebody — I wish 
he wrote a little better— calls you Demos- 
thenes. Oh ! Reginald, when did you speak; 
and why didn't you tell me?" 



CLAEE ABBEY. 135 

"My dear Camilla," he said, with a look 
of annoyance, '' I wish you would not make 
such a fuss. We occasionally meet to speak, 
to practice speaking at Oxford; and one 
night, there was some rather good speaking, 
that was all." 

" I thought people only made speeches in 
Parliament," remarked Lady Yere. 

" Oh, mamma, don't you remember Co- 
lonel Ashby's speech at Salisbury, last week, 
which they said lasted two hours ? " 

" Yes, to be sure ; I wonder what it was 
all about. What did you speak about, 
Reginald ?" 

" It was a mere question for the purpose 
of debate, mother; it was of no importance." 

^' What was the subject?" asked Lord 
Yere, shortly and suddenly, — looking up 
from the newspaper. 

Reginald coloured, but replied in the re- 
spectful tone in which he always addressed 
both his parents, 

" The question that was proposed was on 
the subject of ambition ; whether greatness 
was or was not desirable simply for itself?" 



136 CLARE ABBEY. 

" And what might your sage opinion be ?" 

" I said that to rise was in itself an 
object for ambition;" and his eyes flashed as 
he spoke. 

His father turned to the newspaper with 
a slight scoffing laugh ; but Camilla ex- 
claimed, 

" Right, Reginald, right ; who were the 
dull, stuj)id people who could think other- 
wise t 

" They were not dull or stupid," he said, 
gravely; ''and though for some reasons my 
speech was the most applauded, / know that 
there was no comparison between mine and 
that of the person who answered me. He 
did not convince me," he added, with a 
slight sigh ; " but I felt that his words were 
better, and wiser too." 

"Applauded! Reginald!" exclaimed his 
sister, eagerly; "were you cheered? — oh! if 
I had but been there." 

" Talking of speaking," said Lady Vere, 
in her languid voice, " Mitford tells me that 
we shall have a new preacher to-day. Shall 
you go to church, my love ?" 



CLARE ABBEY. 137 

" My love " took no notice of the question. 
She turned to her son, and repeated it. 

" Yes, mother, certainly." 

" I think I shall go, because Mitford has 
trimmed my new bonnet, — a sort of white 
fancy straw, with blue marabout feathers ; 
it 's exceedingly pretty. What shall you 
wear, Camilla?" 

" The same as usual, mamma," she replied, 
carelessly ; "I didn't know that we need 
dress for Mr. De Grey." 

Reginald glanced at her : her disrespect- 
ful manner to her mother was the subject 
of his constant but unavailing remon- 
strance. 

"Now, my dear Reginald," she said, 
always distressed by his displeasure, though 
rarely amended by it, " can you say that there 
is any necessity for a new bonnet because 
a new clergyman happens to come to our 
dull church?" 

He shook his head with a slight grave 
smile, but said nothing. 

" Do you know, Reginald," she added, 
suddenly, " from what Mitford was telling 



138 CLARE ABBEY. 

mamma last night, I think our very civil 
friend must have been Mr. De Grey." 

"Do you think it was?" he asked, ^vith 
interest in his manner. 

" I am sure it must have been ; because 
Mitford says when she went do^\Ti to buy 
some ribbon she saw him arrive, and when 
she came back, about half an horn* after- 
wards, she saw the same person walking in 
our direction. I hope it was ; I liked his 
looks, didn't you, Reginald ? " 

" I really hardly observed him, Camilla, — 
I was thinking of you ;" and he looked at 
her with one of the sweet fond smiles which 
brightened and softened his proud beauty. 

"/thought you were very short to him,'* 
she said, laughing ; " I liked his looks, not 
the least like a clergyman ; how different 
to that poor, ^vretched Mr. Hervey. I 
don't know if mamma was not right, and 
that he would have been worth a new bon- 
net after all ;" and she looked mischievously 
up in her brother's grave face as she spoke. 

He shook his head again, but indulgently, 
as at a pretty naughty child whose wilful 



CLARE ABBEY. 139 

ways are too winning for anger, and left the 
breakfast-table. 

Untamed and unrestrained, Camilla St. 
]\Iaur had gro^^n to be a woman ; a few 
strict rules laid upon her body, forming the 
only yoke of her education. Unless when 
emancipated by her brother's presence, her 
body was a slave to the precincts of the 
Abbey ; for Lacly Vere had strict ideas as 
to what a young lady should, and should not 
do : but no such restraint was imposed on 
her mind. She had had one or two foolish 
governesses ; but folly exerts no authority, 
or if it exerts, fails to obtain it ; and so her 
mind had grown in unfettered freedom, with 
few principles to guide her, and those few 
caught from her brother's example, or 
springing up naturally in a mind as fruit- 
ful in flowers as in weeds. She spent what 
she chose ; did what she chose ; read what 
she chose ; learned what she chose, or 
wasted her time as she chose, — and so at six- 
teen and a half, she was nothing but as j\Irs. 
Hervey said, " a wild, sweet, heedless thing," 
surpassingly lovely, quick in apprehension, 



140 CLARE ABBEY. 

vivid in imagination ; yet all these good 
things wasting their sweetness from want of 
culture. 

Strange, unspeakably strange, were the 
feelings of Ernest De Grey as he stood in 
the pulpit of the village church, and pre- 
pared to address his parishioners for the first 
time. The voices of the school-children were 
singing the hundredth psalm, the favourite of 
his childish fancy ; and as the sounds fell 
upon his ear (the same discordant tones from 
the old grinding organ, the same unsoftened, 
unmusical notes from the children), memory 
transported him from the spot on which he 
now stood, and once more placed him a 
child by his mother's side, and once more 
he gazed upon the old organ as the wonder 
of the world, and the twang of the children 
fell pleasantly upon his ear. A sudden failure 
in the organ, such as he remembered in the 
olden time, aroused him from this fh^st back- 
ward flight of his fancy ; and there came a 
remembrance of the hour in his boyish life, 
when the idea first dawned upon his mind 



CLARE ABBEY. 141 

that the music in Cranleigh church was not 
such a concord of sweet sounds as he had 
childishly imagined ; and then, connected 
with this discovery, he almost smiled as he 
recalled the day when, in the independence 
of enlightened boyhood, he had left his 
mother's side, and had chosen for himself a 
prominent and luxurious position in the large 
cm-tained roomy pew, which of all the de- 
formities of Cranleigh church was the most 
unsightly and the most indefensible. Led 
away by this recollection, he involuntarily 
turned his eyes upon the interior of the pew, 
until this moment hidden from his sight, and 
there, in his boyhood's chosen seat, stood 
Camilla St. Maur, the \'ision of the preceding 
evening. A bright slanting gleam of sun- 
shine was falling upon her, encircling her 
fairy figure, her airy dress, making her laugh- 
ing eyes to sparkle, and her hair to shine 
like threads of gold. It was too lovely a 
vision for such a time, and almost 

" The preacher in his parting prayer 
Shut his dark eyes, and warn'd men to beware 
Of beauty." 



142 CLARE ABBEY. 

These trains of thought are long in de- 
scription, but they passed through the mind 
swifter than the arroAv from the bow. The 
last verse of the psalm was singing, when 
Ernest stood up in the pulpit and looked 
around him ; the verse concluded, and calm, 
grave, and composed, he began the words of 
the opening prayer, driving back with one 
strong resolute effort the feverish dreams of 
the past and the futiu*e into the recesses of 
his mind. 

The discourse of the new rector of Cran- 
leigh was not heard unmoved by his congre- 
gation. Many tears were shed by the poor, 
who have those outward signs of emotion 
ready at every call of sorrow and of joy ; and 
even in the less excitable hearts of the rich 
there were feelings unexpressed, inexpress- 
ible, whose only outward sign could have 
been tears. And this not because Ernest was 
a fine preacher — far from it. His sermon 
was short, his language simple and concise ; 
his manner serious, and no more. There was 
no kindling of the eloquence wliich, whatever 
may be its ultimate effect, for the moment 



CLARE ABBEY. 143 

few can resist ; there was no fervour of reli- 
gious feeling, no ardoiu* of youthful zeal ; 
there was but that which goes straight and 
direct to the hearts of all men, young and 
old, rich and poor — Truths — the plain and 
simple expression of natural feelmg. He 
spoke of its being the first time on which he 
was called to address them — quietly, with a 
kind of restrained feeling, far more touching 
than its full expression ; he spoke of his 
former connection with them, and of the 
additional interest which that connection 
must give to his duties amongst them, and 
to his wishes for their welfare. He spoke of 
the awful responsibility that was laid upon 
his shoulders, and touchingly, as if he felt it 
in his heart, of his own weakness and unwor- 
thiness to bear it ; concluding with a short 
and earnest appeal to his flock, imploring 
them to make that burden less by their own 
attention to their duty, and by assisting him 
with their endeavours and their prayers. 

If to such words be added the influence of 
a voice low and melodious, and of an appear- 
ance singularly prepossessing, few perhaps 



144 CLARE ABBEY. 

will be disposed to wonder at the good reso- 
lutions made that day by many a youthfid 
heart, — resolutions frail and fleeting as youth 
itself, — that neither look, nor word, nor deed 
of theirs should ever grieve the heart of him 
who had looked down upon them " as ten- 
derly," a young girl said, " as if he had. been 
the father of them all." 

Remnald St. Maur sat during the sermon 
with his hand over his eyes. Once Camilla 
looked at him, and smiled — smiled as the 
young, ashamed of being touched are apt to 
do ; but he did not heed her. The interest 
with which he had early thought of Ernest 
De Grey had strengthened with his advancing 
years ; and that interest his present position 
amongst them, and his appearance and lan- 
guage that day, were further calculated to 
increase. There was that about him, in his 
manner and in his words — speaking of feel- 
ing and the conquest of feeling — a kind of 
" brave tenderness," as it has been happily 
expressed, which went to Reginald's heart ; 
and as he gazed on the youthful preacher. 



CLARE ABBEY. 145 

and hung upon his words, he felt his spirit 
stirred with undefinable emotion. 

At the conclusion of the service, when he 
had assisted to place his mother comfortably 
in the barouche, he drew back, sa}dng he 
would walk home. 

" Now, Reginald," exclaimed Camilla, lean- 
ing out, and looking at him reproachfully, 
" what are you going to do ? Wliy didn't you 
tell me ? I would a thousand times rather 
walk." 

He smiled, but made no answer, and de- 
sired the coachman to drive on. He stood 
in the churchyard, while the throng of vil- 
lagers passed by, raising his hat to every 
bow, even to the curtsey of every little child, 
with the grave and distant comlesy which 
distinguished him, — speaking to none, fami- 
har with none, but courteous to all. When 
all had departed, and he was left alone, he 
turned into the path wliich led from the 
porch of the church, and there waited till 
Ernest and Mr. Hervey appeared. He then 
went forward to meet them, and begging Mr. 
Hervey to introduce him, he held out liis 

VOL. I. L 



146 CLARE ABBEY. 

hand to Ernest. His manner was not cordial^ 
for the word cordiality implies a heartiness 
of welcome which was foreign to Reginald's 
natmre ; but there was in it a deep and 
respectful interest, far removed from the 
condescension usually characterizing the 
unbending of stateliness. 

"I did not know you last night, Mr. 
De Grey, or I should have done more than 
thank you for your khidness to my sister." 

" Neither did I know you," replied Ernest^ 
smiling ; " though, perhaps, I guessed who 
you might be." 

They stood for a few moments in silence, 
a little awkwardness and constraint on both 
sides ; but Reginald seemed determined to 
overcome it. 

"If you are going home, Mr. De Grey," 
he began again, " perhaps you will let us 
go together as far as your house." 

And together they set off: but little 
advance was made in acquaintance ; for Mr. 
Hervey, feeling for once somewhat import- 
ant, could not refrain from making an exhi- 
bition to Ernest of his intimacy with " tlie 



CLARE ABBEY, 147 

proud young Lord," as Reginald was com- 
monly called. It was a momentary ebullition 
of vanity, for usually he was humble enough ; 
and, in fact, his pride in Reginald's notice 
was prompted by a better feeling than mere 
servile vanity : it was far rather the uncon- 
scious homage paid to a character above the 
common level of humanity ; and Mr. Hervey 
was but one among many by whom this 
homage was paid. 

" I hope Lady Vere and Miss St. Maur are 
quite well," he began, as they walked along. 
" Quite well, thank you," Reginald replied, 
with cold civility. 

" I suppose they came to chm-ch in the 
barouche, as usual?" 

" Yes. My mother is not a great walker." 
" What do you take to be the distance 
from here to Clare Abbey?" 

" I don't know," Reginald said, coldly. He 
was annoyed at the mention of the name. 
Those whose minds are fixed on one parti- 
cular event in the life of others, are apt to 
fancy a power to wound in allusions which 
the most interested do not even remark. 
l2 



148 CLAKE ABBEY. 

" I suppose it is rather more than a mile 
by the road," Ernest said, indifferently. 

"Mr. De Grey is better acquainted ^\dth 
the country than either you or I," was Mr. 
Hervey's next opportune remark. 

Reginald coloured, and they walked on in 
silence till they came in sight of the par- 
sonage. 

He then stopped; and after shaking hands 
with distant civility with Mr. Hervey, turned 
to Ernest, and, colouring again, said, he- 
sitatingly : 

" I hope to see you again soon, Mr. De 
Grey, and my mother and sister also wish 
to make your acquaintance. May we ex- 
pect, if it is not disagreeable to you, to 
see you at ... at home ? " 

" May I call at Clare Ahhey to-morrow?" 
Ernest said, with a shght smile and a slight 
emphasis on the words. 

Reginald smiled also, and held out his 
hand. Each understood perfectly the feel- 
ings and the meaning of the other. Al 
awkwardness vanished between them ; the 
awkwardness on Ernest's side, of fearmg to 



CLARE ABBEY. 149 

remind of what he once had been ; on Re- 
ginald's side, of seeming to patronize him 
who had once stood in his position. It 
was such an understanding as could never 
have been given by the comparatively 
shackled language of the tongue. 

" I don't know how it is, mother," said 
Mr. Hervey, throwing himself with some 
vexation, though without a spark of resent- 
ment, into a chair, in the little drawing- 
room of their cottage ; " I don't know how 
it is, but that young St. Maur seems to 
take more to Mr. De Grey in this one day, 
than he has to me in the whole three 
years that we have been acquamted with 
him?" 

" It is but natural, Edward," said Mrs, 
Hervey, consolingly ; continuing, with some 
observation, " you know, as one may say, 
there is something between them that binds 
them together. One stands in the other's 
place ; just so, I remember, when your sis- 
ter, Mary, and Anne Morrisson, poor girl, 
were both in love with Alfred, and didn't 
know for the life of them which he liked 



150 CLARE ABBEY. 

best. They were always clinging together, 
as if, though they said nothing about it, 
there was something that joined them ; and 
so it is with these young men. And what 
did you think of Mr. De Grey's sermon, my 
dear?" 

" It was very good, mother. What do 
you suppose the length of it to have been? " 

" Oh, I don't Imow. It made me feel aU 
up and down, and I didn't think of the 
length. I am sure, though, that it was not 
long, for I could have listened for another 
hour with pleasure. And how sweetly pretty 
Miss St. Maur looked to-day. I don't know 
what young men are made of now-a-days ; 
they 're not a bit what I remember- In 
my young days we should have had them 
falling down and worsliipping such a sweet, 
sprightly blossom as that ; and now you are 
all taken up with Mr. St. Maur, and not a 
word of that young flower. However, no 
doubt, it's as well as it is," she added, with 
a nod of her head and a look of recollection. 



CLARE ABBEY. 151 



CHAPTER IX. 

Mad, natural graces, that extinguish art 

King Henry the Sixth. 

Words uttered from the heart, find their way to the heart. 
Character is power. — Cecil's Remains. 

Ernest still felt as in a state of previous 
existence while passing along the corridor, 
and entering the drawing-room at Clare 
Abbey, in which so many happy hours had, 
in former days, been passed. All was pre- 
cisely as he had left it : the same pictures 
hung against the walls ; the same china 
ornamented the marble slabs ; though it all 
looked bright and fresh, it w^as the same 
patterned chintz, with its well-remembered 
bunches, that covered the furniture ; and the 
furniture itself stood in precisely the same 
forms in which it had been left by Mrs. De 
Grey. Most people have a fancy of their 



152 CLAEE ABBEY. 

own as to the arrangement of their rooms ; 
and even if they come to the perfection of 
comfort, make some little change to mark 
their own individuality ; but Lady Vere had 
no thoughts ; and if she had found her draw- 
ing-room arranged after the approved fashion 
of houses " to let/' with a round table in 
the middle, and a sofa against the wall, it is 
probable she would have been perfectly 
satisfied with it. To complete the illusion, 
in the same place, on the same sofa to which 
ill-health had for many years confined his 
mother. Lady Vere was indolently reclining. 
One object only spoke not of the past ; and 
as his eyes, dreamily wandering around, 
rested on that one, it was sufficient, as once 
before it had been, to drive him from dreams 
of the past to still more dream-like thoughts 
of the fiiture. That one object was Camilla 
St. Maur, who was seated at the piano-forte, 
at the farther end of the room. 

Lady Vere half rose as Ernest approached 
her, bowed her beautiful eyehds rather than 
her head, and, without speaking, occupied 
herself for the next few moments in placing 



CLARE ABBEY. 153 

her feet on a footstool, and arranging a cushion 
for her back. Camilla came hastily forward, 
and with the unconscious grace and fearless 
self-possession which is often the effect of a 
retired education, held out her hand to him, 
saying, mth a bright smile and a bright blush, 
" We are not strangers, Mr. De Grey." 
It has been said, that her beauty was 
very perfect and regular ; but the impression 
left by her beauty was not that of a perfect 
and regular kind ; it was rather that which 
is expressed by such words as " interesting," 
and " fascinating." Its peculiar charm seemed 
to consist in its rapid changes and strong 
contrasts ; all blending into one harmonious 
whole, but keeping the attention constantly 
aUve, forcing you to watch her countenance, 
tliat you might trace what inward feehng it 
was which in one instant banished her colour 
and banished her smiles ; or, on the con- 
trary, lit up its melancholy beauty into the 
sparkling loveliness of a child. She was 
prettily dressed this day in a light muslin 
gown, ornamented with sea-green ribbons ; 
her long curls loosely turned up, and falhng 



154 CLARE ABBEY. 

from the back of her head. Ernest, an 
admirer by instinct of all that was beautiful 
in art or in nature, thought he never yet had 
seen in all the world of beauty an object 
so exquisitely lovely as the young creature 
before him. 

She sat down, slightly moved a chair 
towards him, and went on. 

" I told mamma of our meeting the other 
night, and how nearly you made our ac- 
quaintance under very unpleasant circum- 
stances." 

" Yes, Camilla told me she had almost had 
a fall," said Lady Vere, settling herself com- 
fortably in a slanting posture ; "it would 
have been very disagreeable. I am glad 
you were there." 

" Not that you were of any use, IVIr. De 
Grey," Camilla said, shaking her head. " I 
can't allow you to think you were." 

"I assure you, I did not think so," Ernest 
rephed, smiling; and he scarcely wondered 
at finding himself at once on a footing of 
perfect intimacy ^vith those who, as stran- 
gers, had occupied so much of his thoughts, 



CLARE ABBEY. 155 

SO careless and unconscious was the ease of 
the young girl. 

" What a hot day it is," remarked Ladj 
Vere. 

" The sun is hot, but there is a cold 
wind." 

" Did you walk all the way from Cran- 
leigh ? You must be very tired." 

Ernest smiled. 

Camilla said, " You are a great walker, I 
am sure, Mr. De Grey." 

^'Why do you think so?" he asked, 
smiling ; "not because I have walked from 
Cranleigh?" 

" no ! I think nothing of that myself ; 
but I am sure you are given to long solitary 
rambles. You could not stay quietly at 
home on Saturday to arrange your things, 
as you ought to have done, but you must 
set off and walk for I don't know how many 
hours on your first evening." 

" It was my things which drove me out," 
he said, laughing. " I could hardly fuid a 
place even to put my hat upon. If you 
know the wretched desolate look of a new, 



156 CLAEE ABBEY. 

disarranged house, you will not wonder at 
my escaping from it as fast as I could." 

" I don't know anything about it ; and 1 
am sure I should like it if I did. I am 
sure I should like a change, even to be 
uncomfortable. We never once have moved 
since first we came to this dull., stupid^ 
tedious place ; and I don't care how soon 
a change comes." She spoke the words 
with emphasis. 

Ernest involuntarily coloured, and looked 
annoyed. Was it really thus : the home 
over which his own heart was yearning — 
was it but dull and stupid to those who 
were the envied possessors of it ? 

Camilla saw his look, reproached herself 
for her thoughtlessness ; and, moving her 
chair nearer to him, said, blushing deeply, 
and bending forward, " Now, I should 
not have said that to you. I am very 
sorry." 

" Pray, don't be sorry ! there is no need. 
Pray, don't think that you have annoyed 
me," Ernest said, angry with himself, and 
feeling — ^but it would be difficult to describe 



CLARE ABBEY. 157 

exactly what he did feel towards her at that 
moment. 

"What did you say, Camilla?" asked 
Lady Vere. 

" Something, as usual, that I ought not to 
have said," she repHed. Then jumping up, 
she rang the bell, saying, " I quite forgot to 
send for Reginald. He told me to let him 
know if Mr. De Grey called." 

"Where is Reginald?" 

" Reading in his room, mamma. I went 
and rattled at the door a little while ago, 
but he would not notice me. He fastens 
his door to keep me out," she went on, 
turning to Ernest, " for five or six hours 
a day ; he says he can't read if I am there. 
Isn't it very hard ?" 

The thought that passed through Ernest's 
mind would, if expressed, have taken the 
form of a vapid compliment, — and he was no 
complimenter ; so he only laughed, and said 
nothing. 

" You have no sister to worry you at your 
studies, have you, Mr. De Grey?" 

" No. If my studies don't get on as well 



158 CLARE ABBEY. 

as they should, I have nobody to blame but 
myself." 

"But they do get on very well, I suppose? 
Reginald says, — ^but here is Reginald." 

" Mr. De Grey is here, my dear Reginald," 
remarked Lady Vere. " Camilla sent to tell 
you." 

Camilla got up, and drew a chair for her 
brother between herself and Ernest. He 
thanked her with a smile, and sat down ; 
but the ease of the visit was gone. Camilla 
left her brother to speak; and he, anxious 
as he was to make Ernest feel at home, and 
unrestrained, had not the gift of easy con- 
versation, which his sister possessed. Long 
pauses ensued, and the mtervals were filled 
up by wise observations from Lady Vere, 
which seemed, in her son's presence, to be 
more utterly witliout point or meaning than 
before. 

Ernest soon got up and took leave, and 
Reginald followed him. He took down his 
hat in the corridor, and, opening a side glass- 
door, led him into the garden. He then 
said — 



CLARE ABBEY. 159 

" Another day, Mr. De Grey, I shall ask 
you to pay me a visit, and a longer one. But 
I know that your first visit to us must have 
been painful, and if my presence annoys 
you, and you would rather go through these 
well-known ways alone, only say so, and I 
shall not misunderstand you." 

Ernest's heart was full of many thoughts 
and many sensations, but they were not now 
thoughts of himself, or regretful mournings 
over the past ; they were rather strange 
sweet feelings of gratitude and love for those 
who had shown such unbidden thoughtful- 
ness and consideration for him. It took 
a moment to overcome a perhaps some- 
what unmanly softness, which the combina- 
tion of these new feelings, with the feelmgs 
natural to the spot where he stood, was 
tending to produce ; and Reginald, fancying 
he was answered, turned away. 

" Pray, don't think I wish to be alone ! " 
Ernest said, recovering his bewildered 
senses ; " I was silent only because I could 
not thank you for your kindness as I should 
wish to do. I will not deny," he continued, 



160 CLAKE ABBEY. 

after a moment's thought, " that it was pain- 
ful to me to come here to-day ; I was very 
fond of this place, and I had not quite made 
up my mind to see it in other hands ; but if 
I say this honestly, will you equally believe 
me when I say that it is painful no more." 

They walked on together. Reginald 
suddenly said, 

" I have thought so much of you, Mr. De 
Grey, all my life long." 

" Have you?" Ernest said, with some sur- 
prise. " I have thought of you, — but then 
that Avas but natural." 

"Have you thought of me as I have thought 
of you, ivith envyV Reginald asked with a 
slight smile. 

" With envy ! — of me ! " Poor Ernest 
had never been m the habit of contem- 
plating his own destiny as one to be 
envied. 

" You wonder that I should envy you," 
said his companion; "but it has always 
seemed to me that 3'ou were born to be 
great. . Beginning life with such a sacrifice, 
thrown entirely upon yoiu-self, yours was a 



CLARE ABBEY. 161 

destiny to create ambition, and to fulfil it." 
The eyes of the young man sparkled, and 
his cglour rose as he spoke. 

" And how do you think of me now ? " 
asked Ernest, with some sadness in his tone. 

Reginald was silent. 

" Not with envy now? " 

" I confess," Reginald said, after a short 
silence, " that when I first heard, three years 
ago, of the life you had chosen, I heard it 
with such wonder and regret, that I ceased 
to ask about you fi:om old Mr. Temple, 
ceased to think of you as I had done. I 
was disappointed in you. I thought you 
had thrown your destiny away. But lat- 
terly, since I heard of your returning here, 
although I have ceased to env}^, I have 
thought of you again." 

'' You despise the life I have ..." Ernest 
hesitated before he said the word, but he 
did at last say it — "chosen." 

" No, not despise," replied Reginald, 
gravely. " I respect, even admire, those 
who devote themselves to it. But then, it 
IS a life open to all ; it needs no peculiar 

VOL. T. M 



162 CLARE ABBEY. 

talents, it leads to no greatness ; it is a good 
path, a holy life, but it is not a life for the 
ambition of those who would rise high and 
do great and lofty deeds. I do not think it 
was the life wliich you should have chosen, 
Mr. De Grey." 

Ernest had said the same to himself a 
hundred times ; his constant feeling wavS 
(though prompted by motives less high than 
those which animated his youthful compa- 
nion), that he was "cabin'd, cribb'd, con- 
fined ; " but answers which we seek for in 
vain, to the questionings of our own discon- 
tented spirits, come at our call when those 
questionings fall from the lips of others. 
Arguments unthought of before now rose in 
Ernest's mind. 

" I have often felt as you do," he said, 
thoughtfully, " but I suppose we are wrong 
in thinking so much of the greatness which 
is in the sight of men. Your ambition would 
be to influence on a large scale, to influence 
or lead your countrymen, to guide the des- 
tinies of nations. But if we consider the 
point seriously, and remember how nations 



CLARE ABBEY. 163 

are made up of separate individuals, the 
life of a country clergyman, whose office 
is to lead to the highest virtue, say but 
five or six hundred ignorant human beings, 
is, in fact, as important, — as important in 
the fate even of nations, — as the more en- 
larged but less certain influence of a states- 
man. Should not we who are Christians 
think the greatest of all deeds, the highest 
as well as the holiest, to preach the faith 
which we profess ? " 

" If you were speaking of the life of a 
missionary, I could understand and agree 
with you," Reginald replied. " To convert 
the multitudes of the heathen, to be the 
first to plant the Cross on an idolatrous 
shore — I have dreamed of such a life my- 
self," he added, with a smile and a sparkling 
eye, " but it is, not too high, but too holy 
for me." 

Ernest looked up at his companion, and 
while he gazed with strange feelings of ad- 
miration on his pure and lofty beauty, his 
heart was stirred and saddened, — stirred 
with vague, aspiring, ambitious dreams, and 
M 2 



164 CLARE ABBEY. 

saddened as he thought of the vows and 
chains of filial duty, which bound him to a 
life from which for the moment he recoiled 
with something of contempt. But he never 
yet had expressed to a human being, not 
even to his mother, the reluctance with 
which he had entered upon that life, and 
the struggles tlirough which its duties were 
performed ; and they were not expressed now. 
With a violent effort, quelling the rising 
discontent, he said, with a grave smile : 

" You must not make me discontented 
with my hfe ; at any rate, for the pre- 
sent, my duties lie in England, and here ; 
and lowly as those duties may be, even 
already I feel that they are higher than I 
can perform." 

Reginald made no answer, but walked 
thoughtfully on. Stopping at last, and turn- 
ing suddenly round, he waved his hand 
over the landscape which lay stretched, and 
smiling, in the luxuriance of early autumn, 
before them, and said, musingly : 

" How strange the destinies of this world 
are, Mr, De Grey ! I remember hearing, 



CLARE ABBEY. 165 

when first we came here, that it had broken 
your heart to leave your home; and still I 
see that, however well and nobly you have 
borne the loss of your inheritance, and the 
change of life to which that loss has con- 
demned you, your mind, and thoughts, and 
love are centred upon it still ; and yet it is 
taken from you, and given to me-^-to whom 
it is nothing y 

" Is it really so? — Is it nothing to you?" 
Ernest said, sadly and wonderingly. Regi- 
nald was right; every floAver of the field, 
every blade of grass that was trampled 
under his feet was dear to him. In some 
minds, the sense of local attachment is a 
passion strong as the attachments of human 
love ; and his was one of these. 

" I see and own its beauty," Reginald 
replied ; " I like it as my home ; and if I 
were allowed to choose my home from all 
the world, I might probably choose this 
one; but still, it is nothing to me. My 
hopes are not here. The duties which may 
one day be mine, — important ones, I own, 
and which you, I feel, would so well have 



166 CLARE ABBEY. 

performed, — are trifling and irksome to me. 
I long to be free and unshackled, to follow 
where my destiny would lead me, — free as 
you were, Mr. De Grey." 

" It is strange," said Ernest, thoughtfully. 
After a moment, however, he continued, " But 
as we are bound to believe that the circum- 
stances in which we are placed are, if we 
use them rightly, the best disciplme for our 
minds, I think I can see, without much 
thought, the use which we should make of 
ours. You must learn to stoop, and I must 
learn to rise. Yours is the easiest task. 
A very short experience will teach you, that 
events and duties are not great and small 
in themselves, but in the motives that 
prompt, and the consequences that follow 
them. My task is harder — " he paused, and 
sighed; then added with a smile, though 
rather a melancholy one, " I believe I have 
been using my office and preaching to you ; 
but I feel much more the need of your 
preaching to me." 

They parted shortly after, and each went 
thoughtfully on his way. 



CLARE ABBEY. 1B7 

A character like Reginald's had never 
crossed Ernest's path before. Had he met 
with such an one in earlier days, it is pro- 
bable that he would have been less tied 
and bound with the chains of human 
feelings, and human infirmities than he 
now was ; for his nature was impressible, 
needing but a spark to kindle its fire and 
animate it into exertion ; but such characters 
as Reginald's are rare, — and more rare, I 
think, in men, at least at the present day, 
than in women. The cold outside, — the am- 
bition burning and consuming within, — the 
indifference to all which the world calls 
good, and the eyes set on dreams in which 
the world perceives no beauty ! — such are 
not, I think, met with more than once or 
twice in life ; or if they are, it is under cir- 
cumstances which, from position, command 
less attention ; or from want of outward at- 
tractions, have less power to win admiration 
and love. If there were many like Regi- 
nald, with pure hearts and lofty dreams, 
with the prominence of position to win all 
eyes, and the seraphic beauty to fix them, 



168 CLARE ABBEY. 

I do not know what this world might 
not be. 

There is no subject of meditation so 
strange or, it might be said, so awful, as the 
consideration how one human being seems 
to be given into the power of another to be 
moulded at his will. Words at random 
spoken — good words and evil words — serious 
yet unintentional expressions of good feel- 
ing, and light sportive words of unintentional 
carelessness or irreverence — have had power 
to form a character, to direct a destiny for 
ever. We cannot open our mouths and be 
absolutely certain that our words will not 
sink deep into the heart of some man, 
woman, or child, who may be an unobserved 
or neglected bystander; — a single sentence 
has before now haunted a mind for ever. 
Such considerations give an a^vful responsi- 
bility to the power of speech ; and yet how 
few think of this ! even of the best, how few 
sufficiently consider it 1 Happy those who 
use their tongues as responsible instruments ; 
and happy, too, those who from the truth 
and purity of the inward fountain do a good 



CLARE ABBEY. 169 

work, and know it not. There are many, 
I hope and believe, of the latter sort. Nei- 
ther Ernest nor Reginald were in the habit 
of considering their words in so solemn a 
light. In their conversation this day, each 
had but expressed his feelings as they rose 
in his mind, and yet the words which each 
had said, were carried away as new prin- 
ciples by the hearts of each. Ernest was 
animated, strengthened, and filled full of 
thoughts of a higher zeal; for a few hom^s 
the hopes of earth, earthly passions, earthly 
ties, seemed " like dust and dross to his 
eye," and he turned to his lowly duties with 
an ardent spirit, mth fresh and vigorous 
resolution, and with glowing pictures of suc- 
cessfiil labour in his high calling. If this 
strength, and these higher hopes quickly 
faded, it was not the influence that faded, — 
that remained on his mind ; it was the 
stronger influence of human feeling and 
human weakness which superseded without 
effacing them. On Reginald the effect of 
his companion's words was less felt, and less 
immediate ; but an effect they had. 



170 CLARE ABBEY. 



CHAPTER X. 

In joyous youth, what soul has never known 
Thought, feeling, taste, harmonious to its own ? 
Who hath not paused while beauty's pensive eye 
Ask'd from his heart the homage of a sigh ? 
Who hath not own'd with rapture- smitten frame. 
The power of grace, the magic of a name ? 

The Pleasures of Hope. 

''My love," said Lady Yere, addressing 
her husband, who came one afternoon into 
the drawing-room, to look for a book, " Re- 
ginald wishes his new friend, Mr. De Grey, 
to dine here." 

" As Reginald pleases," replied Lord Vere, 
coldly. 

" Very well, then, my love, shall he come 
to-morrow ?" 

"As you please," he replied again, and 
taking up his book, was leaving the room. 
At the door, however, he turned round, and 
after a moment's thought, observed ; " As 



CLARE ABBEY. 171 

you have the rector, you may as well have 
the curate and his mother too ; they have 
been due these six months." 

" Very true, my love. Reginald shall 
write a note for me;" and she sank back 
on the sofa, and reposed till her son ap- 
peared. 

" Reginald," she then said, " I want you 
to write a note for me ; you must begin, 
' Dear Mrs. Hervey,' and end — I forget how 
I end — Camilla mil know. Ring the bell, 
if you please." 

"What am I to say, mother?" Reginald 
asked, sitting down at the writing-table. 

" I thought I told you ; your father says 
they are to dine here as well as Mr. De 
Grey, — ' Dear Mrs. Hervey, will you dine 
with us to-morrow, and yom' son ? ' — you 
know about the hour ;" and she closed her 
eyes, as if after the exertion of explana- 
tion. 

Reginald looked excessively annoyed at 
his mother's communication ; but he made 
no remark upon it. 

"Camilla," Lady Vere began again, open- 



172 CLARE ABBEY. 

ing her eyes as her daughter entered, " how 
do I end to Mrs. Hervey ? " 

" I'm sure I don't know, mamma," Camilla 
said carelessly- Meeting her brother's eye, 
she added, laughing, " I should think, ' yours 
truly' would do." 

" Yes, that was it, Keginald," remarked 
Lady Vere in a satisfied tone ; ^ yours truly, 
Florinda Vere.' " 

" It would be a good deal too much for 
me," Camilla observed, seating herself by 
her brother ; " not that I dislike that poor 
old woman, either. Dining here ! my dear, 
Reginald, are they going to dine here ? that 
Mr. Hervey ; you must talk to him — I can't; 
he is quite beyond my patience." 

" I will talk, Camilla, since he must 
come." 

" I really do pity the poor man," she con- 
tinued ; " it must be unpleasant to be such a 
bore. It is quite impossible that anybody 
ever did, or ever could, like him ; and that 
seems a hard fate." 

" His poor mother seems to like him," 
observed Lady Vere. 



CLAEE ABBEY. 173 

" His mother ? yes, it would be hard in- 
deed if she didn't hke him ; but that must 
be all. His sisters can't — I shouldn't 
like you the least, Reginald, if you were 
like Mr. Hervey. It is a thing that often 
puzzles me ; you now, my dear Regi- 
nald, who know everything, will you tell 
me what Mr. Hervey was made for? I 
am sure the world could manage to get 
on without him." 

" Everybody has their place," said Regi- 
nald smiling ; " and dull as you think Mr. 
Hervey, I dare say there are some things 
which he can do better than you." 

" Dull as / think him ? now, my dear 
Reginald, I will not have all the blame 
put upon my shoulders. I am sure I say 
many more words to Mr. Hervey than 
you do ; / am very civil and say a great 
many pretty things about the weather 
when we meet him — you, just say, ' Good 
morning, Mr. Hervey,' and bow as stately 
as a king." 

" I don't want to have Mr. Hervey for a 
friend or companion — he does not suit me ; 



174 CLARE ABBEY. 

but I rather respect him, Camilla, than 
otherwise. He does well what he has to do, 
and seems contented and satisfied in what I 
should think a dull and tedious life." 

" I am not sure that I particularly admire 
contentment," Camilla said, laughing, *'but 
what are you writing now, Reginald ? Mr. De 
Grey — is he to dine here too ? oh ! well, 
that is something better ; mamma will talk 
to Mrs., you to Mr. Hervey, and I will 
have Mr. De Grey." 

" What will you wear, Camilla?" asked 
her mother. 

^' Realty, mamma, I have not thought." 

" I think I shall wear my primrose silk, 
with pinked flounces." 

"With pink flounces!" exclaimed Regi- 
nald, with an expression of astonishment and 
disgust. 

" Yes," said his mother, raising herself 
on the sofa, pleased at his appearance of in- 
terest ; " six pinked flounces ; it came from 
Madame Elise." 

Camilla, laughing, would not explain ; 
and Reginald, after a look of wonder, but 



CLARE ABBEY. 175 

unwilling to offend his mother by a faither 
expression of dissatisfaction at a dress with 
which she was evidently so well pleased, 
sealed his letters and left the room. 

The presence of Mr. Hervey, at the dinner- 
party at Clare Abbey, was rather an assist- 
ance than otherwise, especially after the 
ladies had left the dining-room ; indeed if 
he had not been there, it seemed probable 
that total silence would have ensued. 
Reginald had little of what is called "small 
talk" — as minds absorbed in subjects of 
little interest to those about them rarely 
have ; Ernest, though more conversable and 
with many more feelings of general sym- 
pathy, was naturally unpresuming, required 
to be drawn out ; and was, above all, 
extremely averse (no uncommon aversion) 
to being snubbed. Having therefore been 
three times snubbed by Lord Vere, he felt 
little inclined to make a further trial of his 
or of Lord Vere's forbearance. But Mr. 
Hervey, either more used to Lord Vere's 
manner, or less conscious of that which lie 
had long been in the habit of receiving from 



176 CLARE ABBEY. 

the world in general — or all such lower 
feelings being overcome by his desire for 
information on several points connected 
with the dining-room, talked placidly on, 
well satisfied if the desired information w^as 
gained. He wished to know the date of the 
building of the dining-room, which was 
e\ddently a modern addition to the house ; 
the relative sizes of the drawing-room and 
dining-room, and the names of the grim- 
looking De Greys, who still hung in large 
ak frames against the walls of the apart- 
ment. As these subjects may not be of 
universal interest, we will pass them by, and 
follow the party into the drawing-room. 

Lady Vere was, as usual, half-reclining, sup- 
ported by cushions on the sofa ; her prim- 
rose silk with pinked flounces, was extremely 
becoming to her fair fresh complexion and 
beautiful dark hair ; and a stranger would 
have gazed at the young mother of her tall 
handsome son, mth surprise and admii'ation. 
She was covered mth lace, and her arms 
and fingers were bright with jewels — alto- 
gether forming a strange contrast to the 



CLARE ABBEY. 177 

homely Mrs. Hervey, who, in a black go^\Ti 
and close white cap, sat by her side on the 
sofa. Lady Vere was perfectly happy ; she 
never wanted conversation or amusement — 
but when it came to her, particularly in the 
form of narrative, which saved her the 
trouble of answers or comments, it was 
agreeable to her, and she sat listening to 
]\Irs. Hervey's anecdotes of persons whose 
very existence was unknown to her, with a 
complacent smile. 

At a little distance, Camilla was engaged 
in copying music. She was fond of dress in 
her way, but her mother had never succeeded 
m inspiring her with a love of finery. 
Notliing could be prettier or simpler than 
her toilette this evening, — nothing more 
graceful and interesting than her appearance, 
as she sat stooping over her music-book, 
her long bright curls carelessly streaming 
over her white shoulders, or resting on her 
beautifully-formed hand and arm. 

She raised her head, and watched with a 
mingled expression of amusement and in- 
terest the arrangement of the party. Mr. 

VOL. I. • • N 



178 CLAEE ABBEY. 

Hervey drew near — down went her head, 
and with singular care and attention she 
copied a few bars of her song. She had had 
him at dinner, — ^and endure him longer, she 
could not, and would not ; besides, she had 
arranged it otherwise, — she wished to make 
more acquaintance with Mr. De Grey, He 
passed her by, and went to Lady Vere ; whose 
complacent smile was more inviting. Camil- 
la's attention to her music then slackened ; 
and looking up, she observed her father take 
up a newspaper and seat himself for the 
evening, and Reginald and Ernest place 
themselves by the fire and enter into con- 
versation. The conversation continued for 
some little time — no apparent recollec- 
tion of her presence ; she watched them for 
a few minutes, then shaking back her curls 
with a slight impatient petulant movement, 
she devoted herself again to her song. 
Though not by nature a student of the 
thoughts of others, Reginald always saw, 
and was indulgent to the feelings of his sister 
— and she had only written one or two bars 
before he and Ernest stood beside her. 



CLARE ABBEY. 179 

" Mr. De Grey is fond of music, Camilla," 
he said, laying his hand upon her shoulder ; 
"will you play?" 

She looked up with a start. " Are you in a 
hurry, Regmald ? If not, I would rather finish 
this song, which I have been trying to finish 
for three days." 

" Not at all," he said, with a smile. Then 
turning away, went to relieve his mother, 
who was yawning under the exertion of 
answering Mr. Hervey's questions. After a 
moment's consideration, Ernest sat down on 
a chair which stood near them. 

Camilla wrote a few words ; then rested. 
" Are you really fond of music, Mr. De Grey, 
or do you only say so ?" 

" I really am," he replied, laughing ; " I 
always say what I think. But then I only 
am fond of it. I don't understand it at all, 
and I very, very seldom hear it." 

" Why don't you hear it, if you are fond 
of it ? — ^that must be your fault." 

" Perhaps it is ; but it does not seem to 
come in my way ; especially of late years." 

" But everybody plays and sings — all 
n2 



180 CLARE ABBEY. 

young laches — as I suppose you call them, 
at least." 

" Do they ? — I dare say they do ; but my 
acquaintance with young ladies is very small. 
I know very few people of any kind, — 
and among these few, only three or four 
young ladies. Some of them sing and play 
as you say ; and perhaps they all do, but I 
really don't remember.'* 

" Why, Mr. De Grey," and she put doTVTi 
her pen and looked at him, " I begin to 
think that you must be almost as stupid as 
myself" 

He laughed. 

" I don't know why you laugh," she con- 
tinued with a kind of sigh, "it does not seem 
to me a laughing matter. It is a great evil 
to be stupid ; nobody should be so if they 
can help it ; and a man can help it." 

" Do you think a man can do everything, 
he pleases ?" Ernest inquired, smiling. 

"If not absolutely everything, almost every- 
thing. He must be, at any rate, perfectly in- 
dependent, and able to go where he pleases, 
at any moment he pleases. See how differ- 



CLARE ABBEY. 181 

ent to my case. If you were to wish as I 
do, to go to London, or to the sea-side, or to 
see some of the beautiful Scotch lakes and 
mountains Walter Scott describes, you could 
set off to-morrow morning without any fuss, 
quite by yourself, — whereas I can only wish 
and wish and wish, as I have done all my 
life, and I dare say always shall. Oh ! no, a 
man is a very enviable being, and I never 
pity a man for anything." 

" But a man must submit to circumstances, 
in the same way that you are forced to sub- 
mit. Ever since I was ordained, and that 
is nearly three years ago, I have been a 
country clergyman in a very quiet village. 
If I had wished to move, I could not have 
moved, and if I had wished for society, I 
could have had very little except the 
society of the poor.'' 

Again she put down her pen and looked 
at him — this time with a look of profound 
pity. " Is this really true ? Well then, I am 
sorry for you, though you are a man." 

'' Don't suppose that I am complaining of 
my hfe," Ernest said with some anxiety; 



182 CLARE ABBEY. 

" I was very far from meaning to do that — 
I only wished to apologize for my stupidity." 

" But do you like your life? — do you never 
wish for anything else?" She waited, deter- 
mined to have an answer. 

" If I wish for anything," he replied after 
a moment's thought, " it is not for what is 
generally called society ; I don't much care 
about that. In former days, I wished for 
adventures, and excitements, battles, and 
shipwrecks, and desert islands ; and though 
I hope some of my wishes are a little wiser 
now, still I think something of those old 
tastes remain." She looked at him so 
eagerly and approvingly, that almost in- 
voluntarily he continued — "My first wish 
was to be a great general, a great conqueror, 
and I used to dream about it so much, that 
when I was told it could not be, I made my- 
self very miserable. Then I used to think, 
that if I was not allowed to be great in a 
regular way, I should be satisfied to be a 
pirate, or a highwayman; and yet," he added 
with a smile, " after all my dreams, I find 
myself a quiet country clergyman." 



CLARE ABBEY. 183 

" Oh ! how exactly like me/' Camilla 
exclaimed, laughing; " I never expected to 
hear anybody express just what I feel." 

" Have you a great ambition to be 
a highwayman?" Ernest inquired play- 
fully. 

" You are laughing at me, which is very 
unfair when you are as bad yourself. But 
really I often have thought, that if I could 
be nothing else great or exciting, I should 
be a pirate. You don't know how dull it 
is here when Reginald is away — nobody can 
have any idea of it; so when I walk by 
myself, I amuse myself with wishing and 
fancying. First, I wish to be Henry the 
Fifth, or Montrose, or Bonaparte, — but that 
is quite useless ! so then sometimes I wish to 
be Joan of Arc, or Queen Elizabeth, or even 
our own quiet Queen ! And that is almost 
as useless, isn't it?" she added, laughing. 

"Camilla! Mrs. Hervey, says she would 
like to hear you play," broke in her mo- 
ther's drawling voice. 

" Directly, mamma, only one or two bars 
more. Now, Mr. De Grey, it is your fault 



184 CLAEE ABBEY. 

that I have been so long — why did you talk 
of such exciting things ?" 

When the song was finished, she went to 
the pianoforte and began to play. She 
played well, with both taste and execution ; 
but Ernest, in common with a large part of 
the world, preferred singing to playing, and 
was disappointed. As she finished one piece 
of music, and was looking for another, he 
asked her if she ever sang. 

" Do you like singing better than play- 
ing?" she looked up and inquired. Seeing 
he hesitated. "You need not mind sa3ring 
so, for I do sing as well as play in a sort of 
way." 

" Well then, I do like it best." 

" I am glad, for I like it best myself, and 
I sing a good deal when I am alone; but 
I never thought you would like singing 
best." 

"Why?" Ernest inquired with surprise. 

" Because Reginald does not. He is 
really fond of music, and understands it; 
and sometimes he makes me play to him for 
hours together, while he sits there in the 



CLARE ABBEY. 185 

window thinking ; but he never hkes me to 
sing to him. He says my songs disturb him 
— and you are rather like Reginald, I think." 

Ernest shook his head with a faint blush 
of humiliation at the bare idea. " I am afraid 
that is not true. I wish it was; except," 
he added more lightly, " on this one point ; 
I am sure I should like your singing." 

"I only sing common English things," 
Camilla said; "I can't manage fine music 
at all." She took down a few songs from a 
music-stand, and as she looked them over 
continued, blushing slightly as she spoke, " I. 
must tell you the reason why, Reginald does 
not like my songs. If I could find Odes to 
Mr. Pitt or Mr. Canning, or if I could sing 
fine sacred music, I dare say he would like 
it very well ; but my songs are chiefly what 
are called love-songs, and he says they are 
nothing but trash. Now perhaps you will 
change your mind, and object to my singing 
as he does ? " 

" I don't see why love-songs should neces- 
sarily be trash," Ernest said, glancing at one 
or two that lay before him. " Some are so. 



186 CLARE ABBEY. 

certainly ; but I have sometimes heard such 
pretty ones, that I should very much like to 
hear them again." 

" Well, then, I will sing you one. I like 
them myself. You know it depends a good 
deal on people's feelings. Reginald thinks 
them trash, in the same way as he thinks 
most novels are trash, because his mind does 
not turn on such follies as love at all. Not 
that Jam sentimental either," she continued, 
looking up with a fearless smile, " quite the 
contrary; and I often wonder why it is I 
like them. I don't the least care about such 
things in general ; but people are inconsis- 
tent. I don't know the reason why, but I do 
like these songs ; and the more melancholy 
they are, the better I like them. Here is 
one, however, that is not melancholy : I must 
not begin with a melancholy one. This is 
from a gentleman to a lady ; and afterwards," 
she added, laughingly, " I will sing you a 
very melancholy one from a poor forsaken 
lady to a gentleman." 

She sang a verse or two from one of the 
simplest and prettiest of love-songs : 



CLARE ABBEY, 187 

•* Oh ! if thou wert my own love, 

How I would cherish thee ; 
Thine image, in my heart of hearts, 

Its talisman should be. 
And joys that now ideal seem 
Should make my life one sunny dream. 

" Oh ! if thou wert my own love, 

I could not fail to prove, 
From thy sweet converse day by day, 

More worthy of thy love. 
And I would live for thee alone, 
Beloved, if thou wert mine own." 

Her voice was not a powerful one ; but it 
was sweet and bird-like, with some pretty 
low tones, and her heart was in her voice. 
Better — that is, more critical — -judges than 
Ernest would have been pleased with her 
singing. That he was pleased might be 
gathered from the kind of musing attention 
with which he listened ; but when she ceased 
he said nothing. 

She waited for a few moments, playing 
the last bars carelessly over. As he did not 
speak even then, she said, a little impa- 
tiently, 

" Do you dislike the song, Mr. Do 
Grey?" 



188 CLARE ABBEY. 

He started from his reverie. " Dislike ! I 
am only sorry that it is so soon over." 

" I am glad you like it. But, now, you 
must like this one still better, — at least, I 
like it better myself. It is one of !Mrs. 
Arkwright's, and I fancy such a melancholy 
story in it." 

" And will she love thee as well as I ? 

Will she do for thee what I have done ? 
See all the pomps of the world pass hy, 
And look only to thee, beloved one." 

Her changeful countenance became sad 
and subdued as she sang, but not less lovely; 
and when this was done, Ernest asked for 
another, and still another ; and, seating him- 
self at a little distance, he seemed to aban- 
don himself to such thoughts and feelings as 
the music excited. 

His enjoyment (for though he felt rather 
sad than otherwise, enjoyment it was) was 
interrupted by Reginald. 

" My dear Camilla," he said, as he ap- 
proached her, in a slight tone of remon- 
strance, " what are you singing?" 

" Mr, De Grey likes these songs," she said, 



CLARE ABBEY. 189 

in explanation. Turning to liim with an 
appealing, animated countenance. "I did 
not force my trash upon you, did I?" 

He smiled his answer as he stood by the 
pianoforte. 

" I will have you speak," she exclaimed, 
" or Reginald will hardly believe me. You 
must tell liim you like the songs." 

" I really do, very much," he said, empha- 
tically. 

" Then, I suppose, I must not call them 
trash any more," Reginald remarked, with a 
glance at Ernest ; " but I confess, if I do not 
call them so, it will be difficult to me not to 
think them so." 

Mr. Hervey at this moment approached, 
and seized on Camilla to make a few inqui- 
ries concerning her songs, and music in 
general ; and, although he was perfectly 
aware that she could not have done so, to 
ascertain whether or not she had been for- 
tunate enough to hear Jenny Lind. 

Ernest turned to Reginald, and said, — 
"These songs are the expression of very 
common feelings, and very common events 



190 CLARE ABBEY. 

in life ; and the expression appears to me to 
be, for the most part, very simple and very 
natm-al. Why, then, should they be called 
trash ? Have you no sympathy with such 
feelings as these?" 

" I hardly know," he said* " I have not 
thought much upon the subject. But are 
you quite right in saying that these songs 
express natural feeling ? It appears other- 
wise to me. Take this one, for instance ;" 
and, turning over a song, he read the follow- 
ing lines : 

' Hopes that now begiiiling leave me, 
Joys that lie in slumber cold ; 
All would wake, if thou couldst give me 
One dear smile like those of old.' 

" Is this natural ? — Is it not forced and 
exaggerated?" 

Ernest shook his head with a slight, 
thoughtful smile. 

" I don't know what you will think of me, 
if I say so ; but I must confess I can quite 
conceive the state of mind under which 
such words and feelings would be perfectly 
natural." 



CLARE ABBEY. 191 

" I see we are very different, Mr. De Grey," 
Reginald said, contemplating his companion 
with a look of some cmriosity. 

" Have you among your songs, Miss St. 
Maur, an extremely pretty song, called ' We 
may be happy yet ? ' inquired Mr. Hervey ; 
but before he could be satisfied on the point, 
Lady Vere called her daughter. 

" Camilla, ]\Irs. Hervey wants to go," she 
said, making her communication as concisely 
as possible. 

" Pray, don't let me disturb you, Miss St. 
Maur," said Mrs. Hervey ; " but it's past half- 
past ten o'clock, and our Jane will hardly be 
able to keep her eyes open." 

Lord Vere had lent his coach for the ac- 
commodation of Mrs. Hervey, and a few 
minutes afterwards Ernest found himself 
seated by her side, and hearing, though he 
scarcely listened to, the remarks of his un- 
congenial companions on the party they had 
left. 

" How wonderfully well Lady Vere has 
worn," said Mr. Hervey. " I should hardly 
suppose her to be above six-and- twenty." 



192 CLARE ABBEY. 

" And she must be as near to forty as I 
am to seventy, Edward, and that is but a few 
months. How the time runs away ! It seems 
but a day since I was down at Mr. Hargrave's 
at the Woods." 

" Nothing can be more pleasing than Lady 
Vere's manners when she exerts herself. I am 
sorry, mother, that you. don't see more of her." 

" It 's as well as it is, Edward. Lady Vere 
is too fine for me, and I am too homely for 
her. She smiles very sweetly when I speak ; 
but, somehow, I don't fancy that she under- 
stands or cares for what I say. It 's very 
well for once and away, and I 'm sure I feel 
obliged to Lord and Lady Yere for asking 
us ; but, as to conversation, I would as soon 
talk to our Jane ;" and she slightly yawned 
as she spoke. 

" I think young St, Maur improves," con- 
tinued her son. " He was exceedingly civil 
to-night, and I begin to think we shall get on 
better. Mr. St. Maur has many good points ; 
don't you think so, Mr. De Grey?" 

" He has indeed many," Ernest said, as 
quietly as he could. 



CLARE ABBEY. 193 

" There is more in him than in his sister ; 
though, perhaps, her manners are the most 
generally pleasing of the two. Young St. 
Maur ivill, I have no doubt, make a figure in 
the world. What his sister will be, I am 
afraid, is doubtful. We had more conversa- 
tion to-day at dinner than I ever remember 
to have had before, and I confess I was a 
little startled at her sentiments. She ap- 
pears to be rather thoughtless on some im- 
portant points. Did you find her agreeable, 
Mr. De Grey?" 

" Very," he said calmly, though he felt 
much inclined to toss his curate out of the 
carriage window. 

" I inquired what she thought of your 
sermon on Sunday morning, and she made 
me rather a singular answer. She said that 
she had liked it, and had listened to it for 
once and away ; but that she could not say 
she liked sermons in general. And I am 
much afraid she spoke the truth ; for I have 
often observed her careless way at church." 

'^ Oh ! Edward, don't be severe," said his 
mother. " To my mind, she is as sweet a 

VOL. I. o 



194 CLARE ABBEY. 

young lady as ever I saw. And how like a 
young bird's her voice is ! I only know it 's 
well I 'm not a young man like you and Mr. 
De Grey ; for I should be half beside myself 
if she smiled upon me." She paused, then 
added, with a sigh, " I don't know how it is, 
but that likeness runs strangely in my head. 
While she was singing to-night, she looked 
the very picture of sweet Amy Mills. I men- 
tioned Amy Mills to you, didn't I, Mr. De 
Grey ? It 's a sad thing to think that death 
or sorrow must blight those bright young 
creatures, but so it is ; and yet, perhaps, we 
should not grieve. Sorrow has brought many 
a wandering sbeep back to the fold. Well, 
Mr. De Grey, your house stands first — here 
we are. Good night." 



CLAEE ABBEY. 195 



CHAPTER XL 

It pleases me to bear what you call pain, 
Therefore to me 'tis pleasure. Joy and grief 
Are the will's creatures. 

The Saint's Tragedy. 

Bien que le caractere de son esprit fut Tenthousiasnie, il ne 
savait se passioner que pour ce qui n'etait plus; ses esperances 
memes n'etait que des souvenirs. — Lascaris. 

Uneventful and apparently unexciting 
times are not always uninteresting. It is 
hoped, — but it is a hope much mixed with 
fear, — that they will not be so in this case ; 
for it is necessary to pass through many 
months after Ernest's re-establishment at 
Cranleigh, and yet in those months no event 
took place. 

It was a month after the dinner at Clare 
Abbey, and the day before Reginald St. 
Maur's return to Oxford. Camilla stood at 
her brother's door, fastened, as usual, to 
prevent intrusion, and petitioned foi- admit- 
2 



196 CLARE ABBEY. 

tance. Her voice was a shade less gay than 
was common ; there was even a touch of 
sadness in it, and Reginald could not resist 
her. 

He unfastened the door Avith a smile, but 
when he had closed it again, he returned to 
his seat, and sat down before a large book 
open on his writing-table, with an air of 
pre-occupation and abstraction. 

There was character in Reginald's room ; 
all who had studied his disposition, saw 
Reginald in its arrangements. It looked com- 
fortable, for it looked inhabited, and the 
windows were all open, and the air flew 
in freshly and sunnily ; but there was no- 
thing of ease or luxury, — not so much as 
a couch or an arm-chair to be seen. The 
tables were covered with books, — not light, 
comfortable -looking books, but volumes, 
whose grave and severe exteriors proclaimed 
that as little ease was allowed to the mind 
as to the body. Over the fireplace hung 
a long print of Mr. Pitt ; and on the marble 
slab beneath it stood four small busts', — 
Frederick, of Prussia ; William the Third, of 



CLARE ABBEY. 197 

England ; Lord Strafford ; and the present 
Emperor of Russia. Other prints and busts 
ornamented different parts of the room ; 
characters of celebrated men of various ages, 
various destinies, various dispositions. But 
the whole selection, whatever their variety, 
were classed together by one unfailing cha- 
racteristic — indomitable will, 

Camilla approached her brother, and stood 
beside him. 

^'Are you reading Greek, my dear Re- 
ginald, all by yourself? How I pity you! 
Wliat is the book ? " 

"Aristotle's 'Ethics."' 

" Aristotle must have been a great man 
to have such a great pupil as Alexander the 
Great; but I can't say these 'Ethics' look 
very attractive. What dirty pages, and what 
close bewildering lines ! And have you been 
sitting here poring over this, instead of 
going out this lovely morning? My dear 
Reginald, I do pity you ! " 

"Not poring over it much, I am afraid," 
he said, with a sigh ; " I should have been, 
but I have been thinking instead." 



198 CLARE ABBEY. 

" I am glad of that ; for then I don't 
mind interrupting you. You know, Regi- 
nald, I wish you to be great, and so when 
I disturb your reading, my conscience often 
troubles me ; but thinking never made any- 
body great, did it ? " 

''Xotmykind of thinking, at any rate," 
Reginald said, and he smiled. " But is any- 
thing the matter, Camilla? — do you want 
me ? " 

" I only want to tell you how miserable 
I am," she said, sadly, "or rather, how mise- 
rable I shall be to-morrow when you are 
gone. I have been so happy, so very happy. 
My dear Reginald, what is to become of me 
now.^ 

" It will only be for two months, Camilla. 
Two months are soon over." 

" Soon over when you are at home, I 
know, — too soon; but when you are away, 
the months are years. No, not years, that 
is not half enough, — they are centuries. I 
oiily wish I once could make you feel what 
this place is when you are away ! Nobody 
speaks to me from morning till night ; and 



CLARE ABBEY. 199 

the only change is a walk in the tedious 
garden, or a drive in the more tedious 
barouche. I often ^vish I was a child 
again, and had a governess and lessons." 

" It must be dull, I know," Reginald said, 
kindly; "but I hope it will not always be 
so. And, Camilla, why not be so much of a 
child again as to try to learn ? You are not sc« 
wise but that 3^ou might learn something." 

'' I would, if it w^as of any use ; but I 
cannot see that a woman does any good b}' 
making herself clever. Poor, wretched 
women ! try as they may, they can do no- 
thing unless they happen to be born queens. 
I wish I were a queen." 

Reginald smiled. Arguing with his sister 
he knew was in vain ; and, to say the truth, 
her opinion was in a great degree his own 
also. 

" But to return to what I w^as sapng," she 
continued; "I am so sorry, so very sorr^', 
that you are going, and what makes it worse 
is, that you are glad to go. Now tell me 
truly, Reginald ; you are not sorry, ore 
vou?" 



200 CLARE ABBEY. 

" I am sorry to leave you, Camilla," and 
he put his arm affectionately round her 
waist ; " you know I am. But in other ways 
you are right. I am glad to move ; I am 
glad to think that time is passing, and the 
future approaching. Only one more term at 
Oxford . . . and then ..." And a look of 
intense thought passed over liis brow. 

"And then . . . what?" 

"And then ..." and his colour rose, 
and the shadow of thought deepened, " the 
time comes when I must learn whether the 
dreams I have dreamed are to be dreams 
only." 

Camilla watched his countenance for a 
moment; then drawing a chair from another 
part of the room, she sat down opposite 
to him, resting her arms upon the table. 

"What are your dreams, Reginald?" she 
asked, with interest in her tone. 

"I hardly know myself;" and he shook 
liis head, with a smile. " Sometimes they are 
clear and bright, and I understand them ; 
but sometimes they are misty and vague, 
and so they have been to-day." 



CLAEE ABBEY. 201 

" There is one thing I want very much to 
know, though, perhaps, you will be angry 
with me for asking you. But, do you think 
you shall ever marry? " 

" Xo," he replied, rather hastily, " I don't 
think I ever shall." 

" I knew very well what you would say, 
and I don't think I very much wonder at 
you ; but I am sorry. I often dream of your 
wife, Reginald ; I should be so fond of her." 

" Perhaps not, " he said, with a slight 
smile ; " I am afraid she would be too grave 
for you.'' 

" No. If she were erave, it would be a 
pleasant gra\ity, like yours ; not severe and 
disagreeable. But Reginald, I wanted to 
speak seriously. Do you know, I really 
think you ought to marry, for my sake and 
yours. For mine especially. I know I am 
not at all what you wish me to be ; and how 
can I, when I never have seen a really nice 
woman ? I cannot wish to be like any 
woman I ever saw. And then, besides, — my 
dull life, you really ought to take compas- 
sion upon me. Sometimes I feel that I shall 



202 CLARE ABBEY. 

either do something very wrong, or else go 
mad." 

^' But, Camilla, you would not wish me to 
marr\^ this moment, or this year ; and per- 
haps in a year or two your own position 
may be changed. Would not that do as 
well?" 

" You mean, I might marr}' ; but no, Re- 
crinald, that would not do at all. I should 
be afraid to marry at present, while I am so 
discontented and changeable, because how 
could I tell that I should not be discon- 
tented and changeable afterwards ? and that 
would be horrible. I am afraid you will be 
angry with me for saying so, but I want 
a little freedom first. I cannot be tied do^^^l 
to anybody just at present; — and so we come 
back to your ^vife. You must marry a wife 
to give me freedom, and to give you just that 
little bit more indulirence which I think 
you want. Now tell me, Reginald, is there 
really no chance? — have you quite made a 
vow not to marry ? " 

" No, indeed, Camilla, that would be a 
foolish and presumptuous thing to do at my 



CLARE ABBEY. 203 

age. I only feel that I do not wish to marry, 
and I hope that I shall never feel otherwise." 

" But have you considered the subject ; 
have you been thinking about it? '* 

" I have been thinking a great deal about 
my future life since Ernest De Grey came, 
and the question of marriage did arise among 
other questions." 

" Well?" Camilla said, eagerly. 

" I have nothing to tell you, Camilla ; 
your curiosity is quite wasted. Ernest De 
Grey was speaking one day of his earlv' 
days, and his happy home, and somehow 
the cr»nversation changed, and we spoke of 
oiu^ futiu*e hopes and dreams of happiness ; 
and he drew a picture of domestic happi- 
ness, which I could not but own was bright 
and beautiful ; and it drove me to consider 
as I had never considered before, and to 
ask myself, as I had never asked before, 
what the reality of my future life should 
be." 

"Well?" Camilla said again. 

" Well, Camilla, and I do not think, after 
serious thought, that such pictures of happi- 



204 CLARE ABBEY. 

ness, however beautiful, are compatible with 
my old, my best, my cherished dreams. 
No," he continued, and his colour deepened, 
and his voice took a tone of excitement, 
" they may be bright, they may be good, 
— but let them go, they are not for me. I 
feel as if a steep path was set before me, 
and that such thoughts are but temptations 
to draw my eyes away. They shall not 
do it." 

" But, Reginald," his sister said, thought- 
fully, " do you know I sometimes think your 
idea of greatness is too dry. I don't like 
the greatness that despises common feelings. 
I never could care about Brutus or Cato. 
What I like is a young hero who can get 
above himself for the sake of being great, 
but who is not cold and dry, and, in short, 
a monster. You used to like my favourites, 
Alexander the Great, and Charles the 
Twelfth, and Henry the Fifth, but I am 
afraid you scorn them now." 

He shook his head, with a smile, but 
there was a look of melancholy and ab- 
straction on his brow. 



CLARE ABBEY. 205 

"What are you thinking of, Reginald?" 
she said, anxiously. 

" Your words make me think, Camilla, for 
you have spoken all the vague thoughts that 
have been drawing me from my duty this 
morning. I used to know what I wished ; 
the very thought of greatness made my 
blood boil ; but now I find myself asking 
where are the deeds of those who have 
left so great a name ? and I cannot answer 
myself." 

" This comes of talking so much to Mr. 
De Grey," Camilla said, impatiently. " I 
knew how it would be. I dare say he will 
end by making you a clergyman ; or, if not 
that, at least as severe as he is himself." 

" Severe ! " exclaimed Reginald, his ab- 
straction vanishing as he looked with sur- 
prise at his sister ; " do you call Ernest De 
Grey severe? " 

" Not severe, like a cross old school- 
master," she said, laughing. " I don't mean 
that, but I know what I mean. He is full 
of severe notions, and fancies, and ideas 
that I don't like at all, and I am very sorry 



206 CLARE ABBEY. 

to think that he should put them into your 
head." 

Reginald made no answer ; he was me- 
ditating again, and he smoothed the pages 
of his book, as if he were preparing to begin 
his studies. 

" Oh ! Reizinald," said his sister, drawinsf 
it from before him, " no Greek to-day, pray, 
pray. See how fine it is ! Do let us go out." 

He hesitated for a moment, then closed 
the book and went to the window. 

" Well, Camilla, it shall be as you please 
to-day. You shall not think of me as severe 
when I am g;one." 

" My dear Reginald, ?/ou cannot be severe, 
— 1/016 cannot be anything that displeases 
me. Even if you were to become a clergy- 
man, I suppose I should get to like it in 
time. Don't try me, though," she added 
quickly and laughingly ; " you had l)etter 
not." ^ 

He looked at her ibr a moment, and 
seemed to be on the point of asking some 
question of interest, but, apparently, he 
('hanged his intention, for the only obser- 



CLARE ABBEY. 207 

vation that Avas made aloud, was a desire 
that she should put on her bonnet and meet 
him in the garden. 

"And where shall we go to, Reginald?" 
she inquired as she joined him. 

"Shall we go and ask Ernest De Grey to 
ride with us this afternoon? " 

"Always Ernest De Grey!" she said, 
playfully. 

"Do you object to it, Camilla? I will 
not ask it if you do." 

" Object to it? Oh dear, no. I meant to 
have proposed it myself; but you should 
have left it to me. I shall be jealous if 
vou think of nothimr but Mr. De Grev." 

" What do you suppose to be the amount 
of Mr. De Grey's annual income, mother?" 
This question was asked by Mr. Hervey, as 
he sat in the window of his mother's little 
drawing-room, an hour or two later in the 
same day. 

"None know better than yourself, Edward; 
five hundred a year, or little more ; and one 
hundred pounds of that he gives to you.'' 



208 CLARE ABBEY. 

" I was speaking of his private income, 
mother." 

" There's not much of that, Edward, if all 
tales be true. I suppose you're wondering, 
like the rest of them, where his charities 
are to come from ? It's a pity, to be sure, 
that he should encourage the idle ; but they 
say he has not the heart to refuse if any 
come in his mother's name ; and he'll be 
wiser in time. For my part, I like to see 
him talking so pleasantly to the poor : what 
is it the poet says — ' a heart open as day to 
melting charity.'" 

" No, mother, I was only wondering if 
such a marriage would be acceptable to 
Lord and Lady Vere." 

"What marriage, Edward?" and Mrs. 
Hervey took off her spectacles to listen. 

"Miss St. Maur and Mr. De Grey, mother. 
They say that must be the end of it, before 
long." 

" No, no, Edward ! no thought of that." 

" I don't know, mother ; young St. Maur 
is never satisfied unless Mr. De Grey is with 
him, and Miss St. Maur is always with her 



CLARE ABBEY. 209 

brother. It is a dangerous position, to say 
the least." 

"And why dangerous, Edward? If it 
should be so, I should say there was a Pro- 
vidence in it. But I doubt it — I doubt it! 
there's no love there." 

" Come here, mother, and look at them ! " 
exclaimed Mr. Hervey, pulling the blind a 
little aside, as the three passed along the 
road together. "What do you say now? 
see how Miss St. Maur leans across her 
brother to talk to Mr. De Grey ! and see 
how he watches her countenance ! " 

Mrs. Hervey joined her son at the window, 
and put on her spectacles again to examine 
the group. " Well, Edward," she said, 
when she had followed them till they were 
out of sight, " I believe you are right, as 
far as Mr. De Grey is concerned. He 
seems to worship the very ground she 
treads on ; and no wonder, sweet, sprightly 
creature as she is ! But it's all on his side : 
there's no care or heartache in her young 
face." 

" What do you take to be the exact 

VOL. T. P 



210 CLARE ABBEY. 

symptoms of love, mother?*' inquired Mr. 
Harvey. 

" Nothing so frank and free as that young 
lady is, Edward ; no, no ! depend upon it 
there's no love there. Mr. De Grey is 
another thing. Poor young man ! — and is he 
to be disappointed again ? What a world it 
is ! " and she shook her head, and sat down 
again to her work. 

Such was Mrs. Hervey's judgment of the 
effects of the intimacy between Camilla and 
Ernest De Grey. 



A windy night, which had disturbed some 
slates on the roof of Cranleigh Chm^ch, had 
revived in Ernest's mind his old project of 
improvement and restoration ; and when 
sought for on this morning by his two 
young companions, he was found seated on 
a bank opposite the church with drawing 
materials about him. 

Camilla approached liim with her usual 
careless frankness and winning cordiality. 
*' What a very, very long time it takes to 
discover people's merits," she said. "We 



CLARE ABBEY. 211 

have known you now for nearly two months, 
and we have never found out that you were 
an artist.'* 

*' My merits lie so deep, that it takes time 
to discover them," Ernest replied, laughing ; 
" and none lie deeper than my merits as an 
artist." 

" That is for us to decide. I should like 
to see your drawing ; may I look at it ?" 

" I was doing it for you to see," he said, 
as he put it into her hand. " I was trying 
to express upon paper some ideas I have 
about the church. Don't you think it a very 
pretty church?" 

"Is it pretty ? — yes, I suppose it is ; but 
I never thought so before. I don't think I 
easily find out beauties in things I see every 
day; but I do think your drawing pretty, 
very pretty ! Look, Reginald, are not these 
windows prettily done? I think you are 
much too humble, Mr. De Grey : I call this 
very artist-like, and it makes me wish I 
could draw." 

" I am afi:aid an artist would say other- 
wise ; but I am quite satisfied with your good 
p2 



212 CLARE ABBEY. 

opinion. Though I was doing it for you and 
your brother, however, it was not for the 
sake of your admiration : I wished to interest 
you in a plan which once, long ago, occupied 
much of my thoughts. Perhaps you have 
not thought about it; but if you do think, 
you will see how spoiled the church is, inside 
and out, by the strange additions that have 
been made to it. And I have discovered, 
since I have been here, that partly from 
these very additions, and partly from in- 
crease of population, the church is much too 
small. There is now neither room nor 
beauty ; but in this way,** — and he pointed 
to liis drawing — " with these few alterations, 
the beauty might be restored, and sujfficient 
room would be given. Do you think you 
understand my plan ? " 

Camilla had listened to him civilly, but 
indifferently, and now, shaking her head, 
said, " No, nor ever should ; plans always 
make my head ache. But it does not matter, 
for I know nothing about such things. You 
had much better talk to Reginald ; and that 
you may talk in peace, I will go on to Mrs. 



CLARE ABBEY. 213 

Pope's, and buy a bit of ribbon for my 
bonnet." She was turning away, but sud- 
denly stopped. "Are you disappointed?" 
she said kindly, struck by a look in Ernest's 
countenance. 

" A little," he replied, with a smile. 

" Then I am sure I will stay, if you like. 
But you know I don't naturally care about 
such things. I should only be a hypocrite 
if I pretended I did." 

" But you will, will you not ? If you 
don't care about the beauty, don't you think 
it might be right to feel regret that so many 
of the poor people are shut out ? " 

" Right — yes ! I dare say it is right. 
I only mean to say that I don't care natu- 
rally ; and besides," she added with a half 
smile and a half sigh, " I had better say 
the truth, — I don't think I very much wish to 
care. Such thoughts only make people look 
grave, as you and Reginald do. But never 
mind me now ; talk to Reginald, and I will 
listen, and understand if I can." She seated 
herself upon the bank as she spoke. 

With an effort Ernest endeavoured to 



214 CLARE ABBEY. 

arouse his flagging interest, and turned to 
Reginald with his plan ; but he was doomed 
again to disappointment, not this time from 
indifference, but from want of harmony in 
opinion. Among those minds which rise 
above the average mediocrity, two extremes 
are often to be found, — those who find perfec- 
tion in the past, and those who seek perfection 
in the fiiture. A perfect character is formed 
from the union of the two; for however 
contrary their apparent tendencies may be, 
each standing alone ends in narrowness and 
prejudice, inconsideration, and want of sym- 
pathy. No circumstances or discussions are 
too small to prevent the collision of such 
opposite dispositions, and a student of cha- 
racter might have been amused at the grow- 
ing wannth of the argument that followed, 
the shudder with which Ernest heard Regi- 
nald's sweeping denunciations of the old 
edifice, and the scorn with which Reginald 
turned from Ernest's lowly and simple pro- 
positions. To restore this was Ernest's only 
desire, and by restoration to beautify. Be- 
fore Reginald's eyes, with the first mention 



CLARE ABBEY. 215 

of the plan, a fair and noble structure began 
to rise, which made the suggestions of his 
companion appear mean and low. 

Camilla, rather amused than interested, 
listened with a smile ; at last she rose from 
her seat, and put an end to the discus- 
sion. 

''It is no use for you to talk any more, 
you never will agree. Poor Reginald can- 
not like anything that is not perfect ; and as 
to you, Mr. De Grey, though you talk of 
improvement, it seems to me that you are 
unwilling to part even with the faults.'* 

"Have I been very obstinate?" Ernest 
said, colouring slightly, as the consciousness 
came that he had been so. " I am afraid 
I have ; but I don't think you can have any 
idea of what I feel about this old church. 
Perhaps it is foolish ; but I don't think any 
degree of beauty would repay me for the 
loss of its present self." 

"I dare say I am too fastidious," Reginald 
said, thoughtfully; " give me the plan, Ernest, 
and I will think about it ; and when I have 
thought, I suppose other considerations should 



216 CLAEE ABBEY. 

come." But when he took the plan, it was 
evidently Avithout interest. 

" I hope you forgive me for my obsti- 
nacy?" Ernest inquired, with a smile. 

" You need not say that, Mr. De Grey ; 
Reginald likes people to be obstinate, in 
which I agree with him. I think people 
who have no opinions of their own are 
worth just nothing. But, now^ if we have 
done with our grave conversations, will you 
come with me to buy my ribbon ? I must 
have it this morning, for this will be my 
last walk to Cranleigh for weeks and weeks 
to come." 

They set off together to the little shop 
of the Cranleigh milliner, passing Mrs. Her- 
vey's windows as they went. Camilla's 
remark had cast a shade upon Ernest's brow. 

" You are very thoughtful to-day, Mr. De 
Grey," she remarked, after they had walked 
a little way in silence. " I am afraid you 
are still grieving over the poor old church." 

'^No, indeed!" and he shook his head. 
" I had forgotten it. If I was thoughtful, 
I was thinking of what you said ; and I am 



CLARE ABBEY. 217 

afraid I was wishing that there was no 
such place as Oxford in the world." 

" So do I," she said, bending eagerly 
across her brother, " with all my heart ; and 
I am very glad to find that I am not the 
only person who can indulge in foolish 
wishes. Now, I suppose," laughing a little, 
" that, as usual, I have said something rather 
uncivil ; but, I assure you, I do not thinly 
the wishes foolish, and that I hope will 
excuse me." 

This was the moment when Mrs. Hervey 
fitted the spectacles on her nose, preparatory 
for her look of intense observation. 

They reached the little shop, and stood 
before the gay window. 

"Which shall I have?" Camilla said, 
inspecting the ribbons hanging tastefully 
and temptingly before her. "I am not 
bent on any one in particular ; I wish some- 
body would choose for me. What colour 
do you like best, Mr. De Grey ?" 

" Blue," he said, without hesitation. 

" You are decided indeed ; that comes, 
I suppose, from being so obstinate. I wish 



218 CLARE ABBEY. 

I could make up my mind as quickly ; but 
I only know that I don't like blue. What 
shall I have, Reginald? — what do you ad- 
vise?'' 

" Blue," he said, smiling. 

" I know you don't like blue ; I believe 
you only say it out of compliment to Mr. 
De Grey ; and as I don't want to pay any 
compliments to anybody, I shall not take 
your advice. I think I shall have that 
pretty sober brown ; will you wait for me ? 
I will not be a moment." And she went 
into the shop. 

"Will you ride with us this afternoon, 
Ernest ? " Reginald inquired, when they were 
left alone. 

" I should like it." Ernest paused, with a 
little hesitation ; then added, " But would 
your sister wish it this last day?" 

" And is my sister only to be considered ? " 
Reginald observed, with one of his slight, 
grave, meaning smiles. " If it gives me plea- 
sure to have you with us, may I not say so?" 

" Thank you a thousand times, now and 
always," Ernest said, warmly ; " but I think 



CLARE ABBEY. 219 

it is but natural to suppose that your sister 
would prefer to have you all to herself to- 
day." 

"We will ask her. Camilla," and he 
laid his hand on her arm as she left the 
shop, "Ernest De Grey has scruples about 
accepting my invitation, and on your ac- 
count. He thinks," and he smiled as he 
spoke, " that you will wish to keep the enjoy- 
ment of my society all to yourself." 

" Oh ! Mr. De Grey," she said, going to- 
wards him with her sweet cordial manner, 
and raising her lovely face to his, " how very 
good-natured you are to think of me ! but I 
assm^e you, Reginald will break his heart if 
you refuse, and I like whatever he likes ; and 
if that is not quite civil enough," she con- 
tinued, one of the faint, swift blushes that 
were perpetually coming and going, flitting 
over her cheek, " I like you to come myself." 

" Then I will say no more, except to thank 
you," and his looks thanked her very ear- 
nestly, " and hurry away now, that I may be 
conscientiously at liberty afterwards." 

" You must just stay to see my ribbon," 



220 CLARE ABBEY. 

she said, laughingly, as he was turning away. 
" You see I have bought the blue, after all ; 
and, unless I tell you the reason why, you 
may perhaps take it as a compliment when 
you see it on my bonnet. But the reason 
is, that there was not enough of the brown, 
and that all the others looked too ugly when 
I saw them near." 

He smiled, and shook his head to disclaim 
most sincerely the expectation of a compli- 
ment, and thoughtfully hastened away to his 
daily attendance at the village school ; but, 
while his lips, eyes, and ears were engaged 
with his little scholars, the spirit which 
should have animated those outward organs 
was gazing on another sight, and hanging on 
other words, and framing far other sounds. 

And this was now his constant state of 
mind, and the danger that assailed him was 
a danger greater than the danger of disap- 
pointed affection, in so far as the fear of a 
failure in duty is greater than the fear of a 
loss of happiness. 

Ernest had arrived at Cranleigh with a 
very solemn sense of responsibility, and a 



CLARE ABBEY. 221 

very sincere desire to do his utmost for the 
temporal and eternal welfare of his pari- 
shioners. That utmost which he set before 
him was, no doubt, open to criticism, — his 
standard of right was not sufficiently high, 
his idea of his duties not sufficiently en- 
larged ; but still, in all sincerity, that which 
he saw to be his duty he determined to per- 
form. Before the idea of sincerity duties 
are ever opening ; and the sense of respon- 
sibility, once thoroughly admitted, is a sense 
that cannot be satisfied. So, had nothing 
intervened between him and his serious 
thoughts, it is probable that his mind would 
have shortly opened to higher desires and 
holier purposes. But almost before he had 
thoroughly considered what his new duties 
were — before he could fully realise the con- 
viction that some hundreds of human beings 
were hanging on him, on his words, and liis 
example for warning, instruction, and com- 
fort, he fell into such a sweet, bright dream 
of bliss, as bore him away from the present, 
and steeped his senses in Elysium. 

It is not good that a new state of life 



222 CLARE ABBEY. 

should be begun in excitement. When the 
habits are formed, the map of life well laid 
out, a temporary excitement has its advan- 
tages, for it tends to stir up the sluggishness, 
and disperse the clouds of selfishness, — 
temptations too apt to intrude on regular 
habits and a quiet life ; but to enter on a 
new existence, to learn new duties, to un- 
dertake new responsibilities, while the mind 
is diverted by turmoil, and half-dissipated in 
excitement, is destructive not only to the 
happiness of the life so begun, but often to 
the minds of those who thus begin it. And 
thus it was that Ernest's new life began : 
— his first two months at Cranleigh were 
passed as one long summer day. 

The danger is, of course, greater when the 
temptation comes in the form of good, when 
the excitement appears to be of a high and 
useful kind ; and this, too, added to Ernest's 
peril. Had it been Camilla's society only 
which so powerfiilly attracted him, he would 
have been on his guard. His mind was so 
true, his sense of duty so simple and sin- 
cere, that no enchantment of her presence 



CLARE ABBEY. 223 

could possibly have deceived him as to the 
waste of time and thought into which she 
beguiled him ; but the attraction of Regi- 
nald's society was, in its kind, as great as 
Camilla's, and that there could be aught 
but good in }delding to the influence of 
him whose lofty dreams made the cares and 
simple duties of life look poor, — this was a 
danger which even a mind more meditative 
and experienced than Ernest's might have 
failed to discover. 

So he yielded himself, without thought or 
fear of evil, to a new-born happiness, — to 
the sweet companionship which touched his 
heart, and kindled his fancy, and awoke the 
loftiest feelings of his natm^e. So happily 
the days went by, — thoughtlessly, yet too 
full of thought, — joyful, yet with a joy so 
full, that it was almost unfelt, — ennobled 
with visions of ideal virtue and heroism, — 
which yet were but dreams. 



224 CLARE ABBEY. 



CHAPTER XII. 

' " I do not know what your opinion may be, Mrs. Weston," said 
Mr. Knightly, " of this great intimacy between Emma and Harriet 
Smith ; but I think it a bad thing." — Emma. 

" I THINK I shall take a drive to-day, 
Camilla," Lady Vere remarked one morning 
to her daughter, about a fortnight after Regi- 
nald's departure. 

Camilla was sitting listlessly in the win- 
dow : a book was in her hands ; but her 
eyes and thoughts were idly wandering in 
search of that which in vain she sought to 
find — amusement and excitement. The more 
than usual happiness of her brother's visit, — 
a happiness to which, although without a 
thought of love on her side, or suspicion of 
it on his, Ernest's society had very naturally 
added, — had left her more lonely and me- 
lancholy even than usual. The expression 



CLARE ABBEY. 225 

on her countenance was one of mingled sad- 
ness and ill-humour. 

She replied to her mother's communica- 
tion without much interest, or very much 
respect; for, as the day never came when 
the drive did not take place, the announce- 
ment appeared to her a needless one. 

" I shall order the carriage at half-past 
two," continued Lady Vere, " as I mean to 
drive to Carrington." 

" Where, mamma ? " 

" To Carrington, Camilla. Mitford says a 
rich man has bought the place, and she says 
I ouo^ht to call." 

^' Who is the rich man, mamma? I never 
heard anything about it." 

"Neither did I till last night. When 
Mitford was curling my hair, she told me a 
great deal. She says he was a merchant, 
but now he is not ; and his name is Vincent 
— Mr. and Mrs. Vincent ; and she says every- 
body is calling ; and she says I ought to 
call.'' 

Though Lady Vere had a peculiar and 
rather enviable art of communicating much 

VOL. I. Q 



226 CLARE ABBEY. 

in few words, this had been a long story, 
and she was exhausted after it. 

Camilla drew up her head a little state- 
lily, and there was a little ill-humour still in 
her words. 

" Six miles there and six miles back is 
rather a long way to go for a merchant, I 
think. I can fancy Mr. and Mrs. Vincent, 
the merchant and merchantess ! We may be 
sure, at any rate, that they are dull, or they 
would not have come to settle in this dull 
country." 

" Mitford says I should call, so I think I 
had better call," was Lady Vere's languid 
reply. With more energy she went on : — 
" And she thinks I had better call to-day, 
because of my velour epingU. I have only 
worn it once, so that it is almost as good as 
new ; and she likes me to visit in a new 
bonnet. Have you got anything you can 
wear, Camilla?" 

. " Oh yes, mamma ; I think I shall be able 
to dress myself for Mr. and Mrs. Vin- 
cent." 

" There 's a young lady, too ; and Mitford 



CLARE ABBEY. 22 i 

says she tliinks you ^vill like to make her 
acquaintance." 

"Why does Mitford say that?" Camilla 
replied, petulantly. " She knows, or else she 
ought to know, that I hate young ladies." 

" Do you indeed, Camilla ? Dear, how 
strange ! " 

" That is to say, I fancy I do," Camilla 
corrected herself, laughingly ; " for, as Mr. 
De Grey says, my acquaintance with young- 
ladies is small. But I w^as born with a 
horror of the word ; and I am sure I hated 
the Miss Colmans, and the Miss Dennisons, 
and the Miss Burtons that my governesses 
used to rave about. If one could meet with 
Die Vernon or poor Sybil, that would be 
another tiling." 

" Who are they ?" inquu'ed Lady Vere. 

" Only in books, mamma ; but people in 
books are much nicer than people in real life." 

" Are they, indeed ? I used to know a 
great many young ladies at Bath, and I liked 
them very much." 

"Wliat did they talk about?" asked Ca- 
milla, with curiosity. 

q2 



228 CLARE ABBEY. 

" Oh, they used to tell me with whom 
they danced, and where they got their bon- 
nets ; and once I told them that I was going 
to be married, and they were extremely sur- 
prised." 

"That is just what I thought, mamma; 
and the Miss Colmans talked in just the 
same way. However, I don't much mind 
going to see this Miss Vincent. Perhaps I 
may like her, after all." 

" Mitford thinks you will, because, she 
says, she hears she is pretty." 

" Mitfoi'd knows nothing about it, mamma. 
But certainly, after the sight of ]\Irs. Hervey 
yesterday, one may perhaps like to see some- 
thing young and pretty." And, with a little 
expectation of pleasure, Camilla prepared for 
the visit. 

On arriving at Carrington, the expectation 
grew stronger. Camilla had by no means 
lost her admiration of new places, and a 
pretty wooded approach to the house excited 
her envy and admiration. Several times she 
rose in the barouche to look about her, and 
each time, in an agony of earnestness, Lady 



CLAEE ABBEY. 229 

Vere implored her to be still, for the sake 
of her dress. 

" Really, mamma," she exclaimed, as they 
drove to the entrance, with a colonnade 
before it, " if this is to be the end of being 
a merchant, I have no objection to be a 
merchant myself." 

Mrs. Vincent was at home, and Mr., Mrs., 
and Miss Vincent were all in the drawing- 
room, prepared for the reception of visitors. 

They may be rapidly described. 

Mr. Vincent looked vulgar, and was so, 
and was either unconscious of it or indif- 
ferent about it. Mrs. Vincent was rather 
handsome, and looked less \adgar, but was 
more so; for she was conscious of it, and 
endeavoured to conceal it. Miss Vincent 
was very handsome indeed, with bright eyes, 
a brilliant complexion, and a quantity of 
dark hair. Her appearance, too, was very 
diiFerent to that of her father and mother. 
She looked what, perhaps, is most concisely 
expressed by the word " fashionable," — not- 
withstanding (or perhaps, having used the 
word " fashionable," the word " notwithstand- 



230 CLARE ABBEY. 

ing" is out of place) she was, could her heart 
have been searched, more thoroughly vulgar 
in its true sense than any other member of 
her family. It was, however, the deeply- 
rooted, not the apparent vulgarity. 

A great fuss was made with Lady Vere by 
Mr. and Mrs. Vincent, and she was pleased 
with it ; though the flutter of receiving 
thanks and the exertion of answering ques- 
tions somewhat overcame her. 

She was a little puzzled also by a peculiar 
habit for which Mr. Vincent was remarkable, 
— a habit, namely, of asking a . question, re- 
ceiving an answer, and repeating the answer 
he received in the form of a question, or 
else of narration to some invisible auditor. 
She was once or twice put to the serious 
inconvenience of making a second response. 

'' It is a long drive, I understand, from 
here to Clare Abbey," said Mr. Vincent. " I 
am afraid we have given your ladyship a 
great deal of trouble." 

" Oh dear, no, Mr. Vincent ; it was no 
trouble; and the drive is exceedingly pretty." 

" Your ladyship found the drive exceed- 



CLARE ABBEY. 231 

ingiy pretty?" he repeated, with a shght 
accent of interrogation. 

" Oh dear, yes, exceedingly pretty," she 
returned, politely, but languidly. 

" Your ladyship is, perhaps, in the habit 
of taking long drives ? " 

" Oh yes ; we drive every day." 

" Your ladyship drives every day?" in a 
slow, measured tone. 

"Oh dear, yes; don't we, Camilla ? " en- 
deavouring to draw her daughter to her aid. 

" This appears to be a most populous 
neighbourhood," remarked Mrs. Vincent. " I 
am sure we have every reason to be satisfied 
with our purchase. Sophia — my daughter, 
Sophia — was rather afraid of the country : 
she likes society, as all young people do, and 
her papa had prepared her to find it rather 
dull, especially at first ; but, I assure you, we 
have only been here a week, and we have 
had visitors to luncheon every day." 

" Dear, how strange ! " exclaimed Lady 
Vere, opening her eyes. " We never see 
anybody at Clare Abbey." 

" Your ladyship never sees anybody at 



232 CLARE ABBEY. 

Clare Abbey?" repeated Mr. Vincent, with 
a strong mark of interrogation. 

"No, indeed, we never do — do we, Ca- 
milla?" again appealing to her daughter. 

" What, mamma?" replied Camilla, break- 
ing oif her more flowing conference with 
Miss Vincent. 

But Lady Vere only yawned : a third re- 
petition was beyond her powers. 

Miss Vincent approached, and asked Lady 
Vere's leave to show Camilla the grounds 
about Carrington, as she appeared to admire 
them. 

Lady Vere paused to reply, struck by the 
extreme tastefulness of Miss Vincent's dress. 
When she had surveyed her from head to 
foot, she returned to recollection, and very 
civilly gave the desired permission; and a 
few minutes afterwards they Avandered out 
together. 

" You are not at all accustomed to the 
country, then?'* Camilla said, in answer to 
some remark of Miss Vincent's. 

" No, not at all. I am a thorough cockney. 
Our only change from London used to be to 



CLARE ABBEY. 233 

Brighton ; and that, you know, is a little 
London." 

" Don't say ' you know ' to me, Miss Vin- 
cent ; for I know nothing. I thought Brighton 
was a sea-side place." 

" So it is," replied Miss Vincent, her man- 
ner losing the very slight shade of flattery 
which had tinged it, and assuming in its 
place a very slight shade of patronizing 
superiority ; " but such a favourite sea place, 
that houses can hardly be built fast enough. 
It is quite a large town now, and a very 
delightful town, too." 

'' Then I suppose you are accustomed to a 
great deal of society ? Do you go to a great 
many balls and plays ?" 

"Not much to the play — once or twice 
a year ; but people don't go to the play 
now-a-days. There is the opera, you know : 
we hardly ever miss that ; and other nights 
there are balls, or concerts, or parties, or 
dinners. We always had something to do 
all the year round ; for there is as much so- 
ciety at Brighton, in its way, as tliere is hi 
London." 



234 CLARE ABBEY. 

" Well, Miss Vincent, I don't know what 
you think, but I think that must have been 
rather too much." 

" One gets used to everything," she re- 
plied. " I assure you, it is as strange to me 
to stay at home as it is to you to go out." 

" Then what \vill you do here ? How 
dreadfully dull you will be." 

'• I certainly feel it a little, but I am not 
entirely dependent on society ; I draw 
pretty well, and I am very fond of reading, 
and music I like passionately. Besides, we 
have a large circle of acquaintance, and 
this neighbourhood seems a good one — when 
once we are settled and found out, I shall 
not be much afraid. I dare say we shall have 
the house always full, and I am told there is 
no society so agreeable as the society of a 
country house." 

" That must depend a good deal on what 
the society is," Camilla said, with a slight 
nod of her head, " I would rather live in a 
desert than have to talk all day to people I 
don't care about." 

" Oh ! of course. Miss St. Maur, cela va 



CLARE ABBEY. 235 

sans dire ; but we have a very agreeable, as 
well as a very numerous acquaintance. I 
know several authors, and composers, and 
poets." 

" Do you really ?" and Camilla looked at 
her with surprise and interest. " What are 
they like ? are they like other people?" 

" I dare say they are not like any of the 
neighbours about here," said Miss Vin- 
cent, with a slight laugh ; " but still they are 
men." 

" Did you ever see Sir Walter Scott ? 
Xo, I beg your pardon," she added with a 
blush, "I ought not to ask that when you 
must be as young as I am." 

" You may ask it, indeed, and I am 
very happy to tell you that I did see him 
once, and that he patted my head. I was a 
very little girl, but I remember it quite 
well ; he looked so venerable." 

" No, Miss Vincent, you don't mean to say 
that?" Camilla exclaimed, looking at her 
companion with profound vereration. " Now, 
I envy you for that more than for all your 
balls and parties." 



236 CLARE ABBEY. 

" I do feel a little proud of it, certainly." 

" Have you read all his novels?" Camilla 
inquired. 

" Oh ! yes, I had read them all before I 
was seventeen, and that I am sorry to say is 
seven years ago." 

" So have I — but I read them over and 
over again because I like them so much." 

" I like them very well," Miss Vincent 
replied, " but I have not time to read books 
more than once ; it is difficult enough to 
keep pace with the books of the day." 

" I like them better than the new novels ; 
I don't so much care about stories of every 
day life ; I like more excitement and 
adventures, and even fights and battles. 
Have you read the ' Last of the Barons ?' 
I have just finished it, and I put that with 
Sir Walter Scott's." 

" Yes, I read it when it came out. I read 
a good many novels, but it is not my favour- 
ite style of reading ; I like poetry better." 

" Well, I can't quite say that, but I like 
some poetry very much. I wonder whether 
we should agree ; do you like Shakspere?" 



CLARE ABBEY. 237 

'' Xo," said Miss Vincent, hesitatingly, " I 
am afraid I must say I don't. It is very fine 
I dare say, but it is not my style . I like 
something a little more intellectual." 

" I don't know what you mean by intel- 
lectual. Miss Vincent," exclaimed Camilla, 
kindling. " My brother, who is very clever 
indeed, says, he thinks Shakspere must 
have had the greatest intellect of any man 
that ever lived." 

'' Oh ! yes, pray don't think I mean to 
doubt his cleverness ; it is all my o^vn folly, 
I dare say. I only mean that it does not 
please me, I like something that goes 
deeper — more knowledge of :he human 
heart." 

'' What do you like, I wonder ? Do you 
like Sir Walter Scott's poems ? " 

" Not much ; I like Byron best of all." 

" I am afraid we don't agree at all. I 
read some of his poems last year, and I did 
not care about them. I expected to like 
them ; I flew to the ' Corsair' — but I was 
very much disappointed. I did not care about 
his gloomy characters. I liked the * Doge of 



288 CLARE ABBEY. 

Venice/ — that fiery old Doge — but not many 
of the others." 

" I don't care about the characters or the 
stories at all. What I like are the medita- 
tions and reflections ; those I do read twice, 
or twenty times. Every day, almost, I read 
some of them." 

" There we disagree again," Camilla said, 
laughing, "for I hate reflections. I am very 
sorry that we disagree so much." 

" We shall soon agree, I have no doubt. 
Perhaps you don't quite understand what I 
mean by reflections. If you will come with 
me to my room, I will show you some of the 
pieces I have copied from Lord B}Ton, and 
Moore, and Tennyson, and other favourite 
poets. I have a great collection, and when 
you have seen it, I think you will begin to 
admire my style of poetry. You have seen 
all the prettiest part of the garden; will 
you come in? " 

" I should like it very much, but it must 
be another day. Mamma is not very fond 
of long visits, and though I am sure this has 
not seemed a long one, I suppose we have 



CLARE ABBEY. 239 

been out a good while. What a pretty 
place this is!" she exclaimed, pausing on 
the steps to admire ; "it is a thousand 
times prettier than Clare Abbey." 

" Oh ! Miss St. Mam:," Miss Vincent said, 
playfully, " I am afraid that is not a true 
comphment. I have heard that Clare Abbey 
is a very magnificent place." 

" I don't think it is at all ; but if it Avere, 
that would make no difference ; one gets 
tired of a thing one sees every day of one's 
life — at least I do. I am sure I often wish I 
lived in some of the poor people's cottages — 
they look so bright and so picturesque ; and 
still more in some of the farms — such a 
bustle seems to be going on ! I often wish 
I were a farmer's daughter." 

Miss Vincent laughingly took up the idea, 
and having a number of pretty things 
always at her fingers' ends, did not suffer the 
opportunity to pass without some slight and 
playful flattery. 

Camilla smiled and blushed, and very 
amicably the new friends entered the draw- 
ing-room. 



240 CLARE ABBEY. 

"What pleasant people,'' remarked Lady 
Vere yawning, as they drove away ; " but I 
wish they had not sent for cake, because I 
did not want it." 

" You should learn to resist, mamma, as 
I do." 

" My dear Camilla, it is not civil." 

" Did you like Mrs. Vincent, mamma ? — 
did you find her agreeable ?" 

" I thought her very pleasant. Her gown 
was rather short — I saw her petticoat ; and 
her stockings were a little coarse — but she 
was very pleasant. Miss Vincent looked 
exceedingly neat." 

"Neat, mamma? I called her smart, — 
rather too smart for me." 

" I thought she looked exceedingly nice, 
— and her sleeves were particularly 
pretty; — I shall tell Mitford about them. I 
hope you liked her, Camilla? — and then 
she may perhaps give me her pattern some 
day." 

"Yes, mamma, I think I did like her. 
She is rather a young lady, but not so bad. 
Yes, I did like her, and she seems to know 



CLARE ABBEY. 241 

everything; I am sure she will amuse me 
very much." 

The visit was returned by Mrs. Vincent 
and her daughter, in a very few days ; and 
Miss Vincent in the course of the visit, 
criticised so merrily and satirically some of 
Camilla's favourite aversions in the neigh- 
bourhood, that, convinced she did not fulfil 
her shado^vy and despised ideal of a young 
lady, Camilla determined to see more of 
her, and invited her to spend the afternoon 
with her on the next day but one. Having 
overcome her first prejudice against admit- 
ting a young lady to her acquaintance, it 
was not strange that she caught eagerly at 
any amusement offered to her in her dull 
and uniform life. 

On this occasion. Miss Vincent having 
expressed a wish to visit the Cranleigh 
milliner, they obtained Lady Vere's leave, 
and set forth together, and on the way the 
former made some inquiries of Camilla, on 
subjects in which she felt an interest. 

"Are you fond of dancing, Miss St. 
Maur?" she said, as they walked along. 

VOL. r. K 



^42 CLARE ABBEY. 

" That is one of the questions I can't 
answer, for I don't know. I used to hate 
my dancing lessons, but that I suppose is 
not very uncommon. My brother Reginald 
dislikes dancing, so I never think about it. 
I fancy, however, that I should like it pretty 
well, but not so much as riding ; I am very 
fond of riding. Do you like it?" 

" I think, like dancing, it depends on 
others. I like a riding party very much." 

" I like riding in itself," Camilla said, 
" the party would have nothing to do -with 
it." 

" But you do have riding parties ?" 

" No, indeed. I ride with my brother 
Reginald ; and if I might ride by myself 
I should like it still." 

"Now, Miss St. Maur," said Miss Vincent, 
laying her hand playfully on her arm, " you 
are so close and reserved, that if I wish to 
find out what things interest you most 
deeply, I am obliged to make direct in- 
quiries. Can you guess what I am going to 
a.sk?" 

" No, indeed, I can't," Camilla said, and 



CLARE ABBEY. 243 

said truly. " What do you want to know ? I 
will tell you whatever you like." 

" Well then, I wish to ask a question of 
great importance. Who is the hero of these 
parts? — there must be one." 

"None that I know of/' Camilla said, 
with some coldness, though she blushed as 
she spoke. 

"Don't deceive me,*' replied Miss Vin- 
cent, looking smilingly in her face ; " it 
would be impossible to persuade me that 
such a flower as this was doomed to blush 
unseen." 

" I don't quite know what you mean," 
said Camilla, with some impatience ; " but if 
you mean what I think you mean, you are 
quite wrong. Reginald and I don't care 
for heroes and heroines." 

"- Well, Miss St. Maur," she replied, still 
playfully, " I vdll be as discreet as you are, 
and ask no questions ; but I shall make use 
of my eyes, and if I make any discoveries 
I shall not spare you." 

" You will make none, for there are none 
to make;" Camilla spoke coldly and shortly. 
r2 



244 CLARE ABBEY. 

She thought Miss Vincent extremely im- 
pertinent. 

"Have you no wish to be liked and ad- 
mired, Miss St. Maur ? " Miss Vincent asked, 
after a silence of a few seconds. " You axe 
very unhke girls, or, I might say, the world 
in general, if it is so." 

" Oh, I don't say that," replied Camilla, 
laughing. " If I might choose, I should like 
to be a queen, and to have all the world 
kneeling admiringly at my feet." 

" I dare say," said her companion, laugh- 
ing also ; " but that was not quite the kind 
of admiration I meant. I meant admiration 
of a more homely kind. In plain words, 
have you no wish to be loved V^ 

" I suppose I should have no particular 
objection to it ; but if you mean to ask me 
whether I sit at home pining for a hero — 
I don't. I don't much care about that sort 
of thmg for myself. I am not sentimental, 
nor more is Reginald." 

"Well, Miss St. Maur, I believe you now ; 
for if there was a hero in these parts, I 
don*t think you would speak as you do. 



CLARE ABBEY. 245 

You are very young and fresh, I see, and 
you don't understand tlie pleasures and ex- 
citements of . . . what shall I call it ? But 
it will come, depend upon it. One doesn't 
live very long in the world without it. I 
speak from experience !" 

Camilla felt a little curiosity as to the 
natmre of Miss Vincent's experience, but she 
was afraid and ashamed to ask. Such con- 
versation was new to her. She was shrink- 
ingly reserved on subjects of a like kind, 
even in idea, partly by nature, partly from 
Reginald's distaste. 

" I don't mean only my own experience," 
Miss Vincent began again, after a pause, 
" but I have seen such strange things — 
watched the progress of such strangely in- 
teresting stories. I am sure / can say that 
^ truth is stranger than fiction.' " 

" I wish you would tell me some of your 
stories. I should like to hear a real, true 
story, from an eye-witness, very much." 

" I will some day, if I may ; but you 
know one must be discreet. Things are 
confided to me, and I must not repeat them." 



246 CLARE ABBEY. 

" Oh, of course not," Camilla said, vehe- 
mently ; " I would not hear a betrayed 
confidence for the world ! " 

" How very fresh and unsophisticated you 
are," observed Miss Vincent, looking at her 
with a smile ; " how you would be admired 
in London ! " 

" Don't talk nonsense, pray. Miss Vin- 
cent," she said, blushing like a rose at the 
compliment. 

" Well, I won't, for I see you are not like 
girls in general. But to give you an idea of 
the kind of excitements I mean, and which 
occur every day in the world, I will tell you 
a funny thing that happened last summer. 
A young girl, very fresh and very pretty, 
came from the country for two months, to 
go out with mamma. She went to a ball 
the first night and made a few acquaint- 
ances, but she was tii^ed and soon begged 
to go home. The next morning early, a 
large bouquet was left for her at our house. 
The same thing happened every morning 
for two months ; and by no means or inqui- 
ries could we discover whence the bouquet 



CLARE ABBEY. 247 

came. She went out a great deal and was 
very much admked, but rather in a general 
than a particular way. We could not fix 
on anybody. You may fancy how curious 
we were. I really could think of nothing 
else." 

" Yes," Camilla said, with some interest, 
" it must have been rather exciting. A mys- 
tery would always take my fancy ; but is it 
a mystery still ? I hope you discovered the 
author of such pretty attentions at last?" 

" Yes, I discovered it at last, and in rather 
a funny way. One day the bouquet was so 
very beautiful and recherche^ that I exa- 
mined it with more attention than usual, 
and I happened to remark among the flowers 
a carnation of a very peculiar kind and 
colour. We went to a ball the same even- 
ing ; and suddenly, while 1 was thinking of 
other things, my eyes happened to fall on a 
flower in a gentleman's coat, — the very same 
rare and peculiar carnation. He was the 
last person whom I should have suspected 
of such a thing; rather an old person — 
I mean old, compared to Ellen Vivian — 



248 CLARE ABBEY. 

given up dancing, and that sort of thing. 
However, I felt there could be no doubt ; 
and soon after, when he came up to speak 
to Ellen, I joined them, and pointed out the 
discovery I had made. You have no idea 
how foolish they both looked." 

" Oh ! Miss Vincent, I call that cruel. I 
couldn't have done such a thing." 

"It was wrong, I allow, and I repented 
of it at first ; for they seemed so much em- 
barrassed. But I don't repent of it now ; 
for I am sure I helped them to an under- 
standing. I heard this morning that they 
were engaged to be married." 

"Well, it is a pretty story, certainly; — 
but now here we are at Mrs. Pope's. Do 
you really Avant anything? " 

"Oh yes; I always want bows and rib- 
bons — one requires such a variety. Pray, 
let us go in." 

Miss Vincent became excited in her pur- 
chases (a country shop is certainly very 
taking), and Camilla stood by her side in 
some amusement for a few minutes ; but 
growing tired, and a little annoyed at the 



CLARE ABBEY. 249 

gossipping conversation into which she en- 
tered with Mrs. Pope, she retired to the 
doorway, and looked up and down the pretty 
rambling street of Cranleigh. 

While she stood there, Ernest De Grey 
came from a cottage opposite, and, with a 
start of pleasure, approached her. 

"Oh! Mr. De Grey," she exclaimed, with 
her cordial manner, "how glad I am to 
see you !" 

He was so extremely glad to see her^ that 
he did not dare to trust himself to say so. 
He shook hands with her in silence, then 
said, 

" It is more than ten days since I have 
even seen you. You were not even at church 
on Sunday." 

" No ; and I dare say you think it was my 
wickedness that kept me away ; but it was 
not, indeed. I should have gone if I could ; 
but mamma had a cold ; and you know, 
or perhaps you don't know, that when she 
has a cold she fancies that all the world 
must have the same. She would not let me 
go." 



250 CLARE ABBEY. 

" I did not suspect you of wickedness, in 
deed," he said. ^' I thought you would come 
if you could, because it is right ; but if not 
that, I knew you would come for your bro- 
ther's sake." 

" Right, Mr. De Grey, quite right. But, 
besides, since you have been here, I really 
like to go to church. Though, I dare say, 
you don't see it, and though I am sm^e no- 
body else sees it, you have done me a little 
good already. And where are you going 
now?" she inquired, after a pause. 

" I am going home directly, to an appoint- 
ment. Have you been buying any more 
ribbons ? " 

" No, not to-day. But you see I have got 
my blue ribbon on my bonnet." 

" Yes, I see ; I think it is very pretty." 

He looked at her with a gaze of such 
extreme admiration, that an unenlightened 
person might have supposed it was excited 
by some less inanimate object than the 
ribbon. 

" I put it on, to show Miss Vincent the 
wonders of Cranleigh. Miss Vincent is a 



CLARE ABBEY. 251 

new acquaintance of mine. Do you know 
her ? " 

" No, not at all." 

" Then I will introduce you to her." 

She turned round to see if her companion 
was ready, and found her standing a few 
steps behind her within the doorway, with 
a smile upon her face. She apologised for 
having kept her waiting, and then, with her 
usual ease and grace, begged to be allowed 
to introduce Mr. De Grey. 

Ernest bowed; and, after a moment's 
pause, bowed again, and retreated. He had, 
like Camilla, a shadoi^^ ideal of a young 
lady, — a being with whom he had nothing in 
common ; and something in IVIiss Vincent's 
air and appearance proclaiming her to be 
one of the species, he instinctively withdrew. 

Camilla laughed, for she read the thoughts 
that passed tlirough his mind. 

" Now, Miss St. Maur," Miss Vincent said, 
as they re-entered the gates of the park, 
" I cannot help reproaching you. I had 
hoped you meant to allow me the privilege 
of being your friend." 



252 CLARE ABBEY. 

" Oh, yes ! " Camilla said. She felt in- 
clined to add, " in a degree,'* for she cer- 
tainly was not quite prepared to swear an 
eternal friendship ; but she refrained. 

" Then, why have you deceived me? " 

" I have not deceived you ; I never de- 
ceive. What do you mean?'* 

" I thought you said there was no hero 
in these parts." 

" There is none," she replied, impatiently, 
but blushing as she spoke. 

Miss Vincent shook her head at her, with 
a playful smile. " Oh, Miss St. Maur ! " 

" I wish you had not such fancies, Miss 
Vincent, " Camilla said, blushing still more 
deeply. 

''I am very sorry for my fancies, but 
really I cannot help them. I think you 
must be very fastidious indeed, if you do 
not allow that young man to be good enough 
for a hero." 

" A hero. Miss Vincent ! Why, that was 
Mr. De Grey, the clergjonan of the parish." 

" So I supposed, from a part of your con- 
versation, which I overheard. But wliat 



CLARE ABBEY. 253 

of that? Do you think all clergymen are 
bhnd ? He is not blind, at any rate." 

'' Bhnd about what? " with a little impa- 
tient stamp of her foot. 

" Oh ! Miss St. Maur, you are deceiving 
me now. I see you know what I mean. 
No!" as Camilla shook her head; "well, 
I will tell you then. I have seen a great 
many people in love — a very great many 
— but I never, no never^ saw any one so 
deeply in love as that young man is." 

*' How can you talk such nonsense ? " 
Camilla said, angrily, turning away her head 
as she spoke, to conceal her crimson cheeks ; 
but a moment afterwards, with a pathetic 
tone, which in some degree reproached her 
companion, she went on : — " I msh you had 
not such fancies, Miss Vincent. I dare say 
you did not mean to do it ; but you have 
spoiled all my pleasure and happiness. We 
have been very great friends ; but now, how 
am I ever to talk to him comfortably again ? 
I never shall ; I never can ! " 

" My dear Miss St. Maur," Miss Vincent 
said, in apology, though she could hardlv 



254 CLARE ABBEY. 

help laughing, " I am sure I am very sorry 
to have annoyed you. But I had no idea 
that you would dislike my remarks. You 
are so different to most of my acquaint- 
ance." Seeing that Camilla's brow did not 
clear, she went on : " I am really very, very 
sorry — but I cannot believe that you did 
not see what is as clear as day?" 

" I did not. Miss Vincent," she said, 
angrily ; "but never mind now. Let us talk 
of something else." 

Instead, however, of talking of something 
else, she walked in profound silence to the 
house. New ideas had been put into her head. 

On reaching Clare Abbey, Miss Vincent 
was told that her carriage was waiting. She 
hurried to take leave of Lady Vere ; then 
approached Camilla, who was standing at 
one of the drawing-room mndows. 

"My dear Miss St. Maur," she said, hold- 
ing out her hand and retaining Camilla's 
when it was given to her, " what shall I 
say to make you forgive me ? I would not 
for worlds have spoken as I did, if I had 
supposed it would annoy you. I am afraid 



CLARE ABBEY. 255 

I have a habit of foolish and indiscreet 
speaking ; but don't be angry mth me. I 
did not mean to offend, and you must teach 
me to correct myself." 

Camilla relaxed. " Pray don't say any 
more," she said, smiling ; " I am not veri/ 
angry; only I must say, I think it very 
foolish speaking — and I don't like it at all." 

" Well, but I am forgiven — and you will 
not avoid me for the future. Pray do not 
punish me so much ! " 

Camilla smiled again ; and, pleased to be 
so much liked by Miss Vincent, rewarded 
her with a degree of affection much greater 
than before. 

They became friends, and were often 
together ; and Miss Vincent (though much 
inferior to Camilla in natural talent), having 
the advantage of her in age, shrewdness, and 
knowledge of the world, she it was who in- 
fluenced, and imparted her own mind to her 
youthful companion. 



256 CLAEE ABBEY. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Night visions may befriend ; — 
Our waking dreams are fatal. How I dream' d 
Of things impossible. — (Could sleep do more?) 
Of joys perpetual, in perpetual change; 
Of stable pleasures on the tossing wave ! 
Eternal sunshine in the stonns of life ! — 
How richly were my noontide trances hung 
With gorgeous tapestries of pictured joys ! 
Joy behind, joy in endless perspective. 

Young's Night Thoughts. 

With Reginald's departure the summer 
of Ernest's life passed away, and autumn in 
more senses than one set in. He was left 
alone, — alone in his home, alone in his in- 
tellect, alone in his lieart, — and his spirits 
sank beneath the solitude. Rousing himself 
from depression, he endeavoured then to 
turn his whole mind to his duties, to act 
upoD his flitting dreams of improvement ; 
but the fresh and ardent spirit which he 



CLARE ABBEY. 257 

had brought to the scene of his labours, — and 
wliich seems to have been allotted to new 
duties for the very purpose of overcoming 
the difficulties attendant upon them — super- 
seded by a higher excitement, had died 
away; and it was but with a languid step 
and joyless eyes that he devoted himself to 
his tasks. He had been basking in the sun 
of this world's happiness, and he was thirst- 
ing for it still ; he had been blessed with a 
sight of this world's beauty, and he pined 
for it still ; he had been dreaming dreams 
of this world's greatness and heroism, and 
his own simple duties filled liim with shrink- 
ing and disgust. 

But there is nothing hopeless except self- 
deception, and in Ernest's sincerity there 
was ever the golden thread that was to 
draw him upward again. He had been be- 
guiled into wastefiilness of his time, and if 
not into absolute neglect, yet into omission 
of duty ; but now that the time was passed, 
and that the voice of the charmer was still, 
he felt what the effects had been ; and in 
truth and humility, acknowledging his weak- 

VOL. I. S 



258 CLARE ABBEY. 

n^ss and unworthiness, he resolved to arouse 
himself to fight and to overcome. 

He resolved, — and a sincere resolution is 
full of strength ; but almost before the reso- 
lution had passed his lips, and entered into 
his heart, a change in Camilla's manner 
plunged him into excitement more fatal 
than before. 

His love for her, though indulged, though 
acknowledged, had hitherto lain as passive 
and hopeless within him, as if he had in- 
dulged in devotion to a bright particular 
star. He did not even argue the point, — a 
combination of feelings, insensibly and un- 
questioned, pronouncing that hope was not 
for him. Good sense and good feeling told 
him that, with her youth and his poverty, he 
should not seek for it to be ; natural diffi- 
dence told Mm that it could not be ; and 
that possibly which gave life and strength to 
all the others' voices, Camilla's frank and 
fearless manner, proclaimed aloud her utter 
indifference. So contentedly he had been 
satisfied to love her, contented to yield witli 
thoughts far removed from selfish ones, tlie 



CLABE ABBEY. 259 

entire and reverential devotion of an un- 
wasted heart. 

But under Miss Vincent's influence a new 
era came. First, conscious and shrinking, 
Camilla startled the word hope into his 
heart, then — she must, I fear, greatly fall in 
the estimation of my readers, but it nmst be 
owned that she began to flirt with him. 
She was herself unconscious of it ; she was 
utterly indifferent to Ernest ; she neither 
understood the kind and depth of his love, 
nor, indeed, understood in any degree that 
love was anything but an amusement at all ; 
but, hearing the subject perpetually dis- 
cussed by Miss Vincent, she began to take 
some interest in it, — began to be pleased 
with the idea of Ernest's devotion, — began 
childishly to wish for some outward signs of 
her power. It was but too natural ; but to 
poor Ernest it was fatal. 

He did not learn to believe that she loved 
him ; for her manner was so childish and 
<:hangeabk% that as fast as the idea arose it 
vanished again. If a blush or a sweet smile 
entranced him with rapture, a careless word 
s2 



260 CLABE ABBEY. 

plunged him the very next moment into 
despair. But this uncertainty it was that 
destroyed him : it led him to pass 

" The night, the dawn, the noon, the dewy eve 
In the sweet serious idleness of love !" 

The livelong day it laid him at Camilla's 
feet, in spirit not in reality, questioning the 
meaning of her sunny smiles, and the glances 
of her speaking eyes. It plunged him into 
that excitement from which there is no es- 
cape, — the excitement of the mind. Outward 
excitements leave time for rest, — the most 
dissipated have their moments of repose ; 
but in the mental fever there is no pause. 
It bore him company in his solitary home, — 
it made his heart beat in the silence of 
night, — it entered with him into the house 
of God, and followed him mth syren whis- 
pers even to the couch of sickness and the 
bed of death ! 

But such dreams do not last for ever : 
they must receive either a check, or rise 
into more tangible being. After a fort- 
night's mad excitement Ernest awoke, — and 
it was his own boldness which awoke him. 



CLARE ABBEY. 261 

He called one day at Clare Abbey while 
Lady Vere was driving, and was admitted 
by mistake. He found Camilla alone in the 
drawing-room. 

" Mamma is out," she said, going forward 
with her winning manner to meet him. 
-'- Did you know it ; or did you expect to find 
her here?" 

" I certainly expected to find her here," 
he replied, with a smile. 

"Ah," she said, shaking her head laugh- 
ingly, " I thought it was a new thing that you 
should come to see me. But, now that you are 
come, though by mistake, will you stay ? " 

" May I stay ? " he asked, hesitatingly, — 
for Lady Vere was particular on points of 
etiquette and propriety ; not more particular 
than she should have been, but more careful 
of the letter than the spirit of such rules. 

" I don't know about ma^ ; I only ask you 
if you ivill stay? I have got a cough, and 
that makes me stupid; and the day is so 
dark, and the wind so howhng, it makes one 
dreary ; and I am reading a novel of Miss 
Vincent's, which really is too melancholy. 



262 CLARE ABBEY. 

So I ask you, out of charity, to stay and 
cheer me a little. Will you stay?" — she 
smiled very sweetly as she spoke. 

He sat down. He knew that he should 
not stay : he knew that, under his present 
feelings, it was dangerous to liim to be alone 
with her, — and yet he stayed. As to re- 
fusing her anything when she looked as she 
then did, he could not do it. He sat down 
in silence, conscious of his weakness, warned 
that he was wTong, but mth a strange feel- 
ing of pleasure. 

" I ought not to be stupid and dreary to- 
day," she began, after a moment ; " for I 
have had a letter from Reginald this morning, 
full of his plans and his hopes, and he says 
he shall be here in three weeks. That is 
good news, is it not ? — I was half afraid his 
degree would keep him dawdling at Oxford." 

" Good news, indeed," Ernest said, 
warmly, " for me as well as for you." 

" I thought you would be glad. Do you 
know, Mr. De Grey, I really think you like 
Reginald as much as he deserves." 

^''Lilce him ! " Ernest repeated gravely, 



CLARE ABBEY. 263 

for the thought of Regmald brought feel- 
ings of self-condemnation ; '' no ! that is 
not what / ought to say — I reverence him." 

"So do I," she said, smiling ; ''on that 
one single point we agree." 

"Only on that one?" 

" Only on that one, I think ; at least I 
cannot remember any other. I think we 
always disagree." 

" I should be very sorry to think so," he 
said with a good deal of earnestness. 

" Why, don't you know that the strongest 
disagreements make the strongest friend- 
ships? so at least this book says," touching 
the novel that lay beside her; "and so I sup- 
pose that we are to be very great friends." 

He made no answer. She spoke so 
lightly, so carelessly — it was one of the 
moments when the vision suddenly faded ; 
but suddenly, swiftly, and never so brightly, 
the next instant it rose again before him ; 
for, leaning forward on her arm, a faint 
blush on her lovely face, and a faint tone 
of pique, or rather of reproach, in her 
sweet voice, she said, — 



264 CLARE ABBEY. 

" You don't seem to care for that. I 
thought you would have been glad to think 
that we should be friends." 

He almost started ; and with more than 
earnestness — with agitation in voice, and 
look, and manner, he replied, " You do not 
think so : you know too well what I hope, 
if I could but dare to say so." 

He was leaning forward, his eyes intently 
resting upon her. She had forced him so 
to look, and so to speak : but he never had 
so forgotten himself before ; and alarmed 
and displeased, and unconscious what he 
meant, she drew back with a quick move- 
ment, and a deep and startled blush. 

And the vision suddenly and silently dis- 
appeared, — not for the moment flitting and 
returning again, — but the mist dispersed, 
he awoke. 

He also drew back, and sate, his hat in 
his hand, in profound meditation. How 
wrongly had he judged her — so he mused ; 
and how wrongly he had acted. With her 
careless innocent charm of manner she was 
but inviting him to ease and to confidence ; 



CLARE ABBEY. 265 

and how had he rewarded her ? — He had 
put a meaning to her words they did not 
bear ; he had taken advantage of her 
thoughtless frankness, — of the intimacy into 
which circumstances had thrown them. He 
was a wretch, unworthy to be admitted into 
her society ; — this was his conclusion. But 
he would repair what he had done, — 
there, in her presence, he would bind 
himself by the most solemn vow to be 
tempted to such a forgetfulness of duty no 
more. 

The silence caused by these meditations 
lasted for a considerable time. It was 
Camilla who first recovered herself, and 
laughing to conceal a httle embarrassment, 
and, as if to invite a return to their former 
easy footing, addressed him : 

" Will you never speak again, Mr. De 
Grey? You are not very civil." 

" I beg your pardon ! " he said, getting 
up with a grave smile ; " but I had forgotten 
myself. I have a good many things to 
take up my thoughts ; but I ought to remem- 
ber that it is very rude and ill-mannered 



2Q6 CLARE ABBEY. 

to bring my thoughts here. I ought to have 
remembered it before." 

" But I don't think it rude ; I hope you 
don't think I do. You know," she con- 
tinued with the same enchanting blush, in- 
fluenced to speak by a feehng of pity which 
at the moment she scarcely understood, and 
did not pause to analyze ; " you know, if we 
are to be great friends, we must not be ready 
to take offence at every little trifle." 

"You are very kind to say so," Ernest 
replied steadily and composedly, still under 
tiie influence of his new resolutions ; " but 
I hope I shall not try you again. It is a 
bad day with me in every way : I know 
that I have offended in more ways than 
one." He held out his hand, and disap- 
peared before she had time to say more. 

Camilla quickly forgot the impression of 
that one look and those few words which 
had startled her; and in their occasional 
meetings all went on as it had done before. 
She was very childish, — very thoughtless ; 
this was her only excuse, and she needed 
one. 



CLARE ABBEY. 267 

The trials of life are various. Some have 
one hard fight, and coming off victorious, are 
for ever at peace. The conquest is so com- 
plete, the root of the evil so completely 
cut off, that they are assailed no more. 
Others live in warfare all their life long, — 
never so yielding as utterly to fall, never 
so conquering as entirely to triumph ! These 
are they who are 

" Pinioned with mortality 
' As an entangled, hamper' d thing." 

These are they whose thirst for earthly 
happiness is too intense ; these are they 
whose strong affections make strong afflic- 
tions, and raise for themselves trials in paths 
so peaceful and flowery, that men for the 
most part would pass along them with a 
dancing step,— and such an one was poor 
Ernest ! 

He returned with something of renewed 
attention to his duties. He resisted the 
impression of Camilla's manner ; he re- 
sisted, or thought he resisted, the risings 
of fresh hope ; but he was restless and 
depressed, and as he went about his un- 



268 CLARE ABBEY. 

loved tasks, he was unceasingly asking him- 
self why object after object on which his 
heart was set was denied to him, — why 
desire after desire was withheld ! And 
while thus repiningly pondering, he forgot 
— as many are apt in disappointment to 
forget — that while a few things were with- 
held from him, a shower of abundant and 
unmerited blessings were falling upon his 
head. 



CLARE ABBEY. 269 



CHAPTER XIV. 

For oft when summer leaves were bright 
And every flower was bathed in light, 

In sunshine moments past. 
My wilful heart would burst awt;y 
From where the holy shadow lay, 

Where Heaven my lot had cast. 

The Christian Year. 

Think not of rest — though dreams be sweet, 
Start up and ply your heaven-ward feet ; 
Is not God's oath upon your head, 
Ne'er to sink back on slothful bed ? 

Ibid. 

Christmas came, and with Christmas 
Reginald arrived, and with Christmas — came 
a visitor to Ernest De Grey. 

Lady Vere and Camilla w^ere returning 
from a long drive on a cold afternoon the day 
after Christmas day ; the wind was piercing, 
and the air foggy and cold. At a distance 
of five or six miles from Cranleigh they 
o})served Ernest, leaning against a large tree 



270 CLARE ABBEY. 

by the side of the high-road. At Camilla's 
desire, to gratify her curiosity, they drew 
up to speak to him. 

"What are you doing?" she inquired as 
he approached the carriage ; " how can you 
stand there in this piercing wind ? " 

"Is it worse for me than for you?" he 
said, with a smile. 

" Ah ! but look at oui' fur cloaks ; we can 
hardly be cold." 

" They are extremely comfortable," ob- 
served Lady Vere ; and added, civilly, " I 
wish we could spare you one." 

" Thank you very much, but I am not 
cold. I don't mind a fresh wind, I rather 
like it ; it seems to drive the clouds away 
from one's intellect," and he half sighed as 
he spoke. " Besides, I have not been stand- 
ing long ; I walked here to meet my mother, 
and was onlv restin<z : if she does not come 
soon, I shall go on further." 

" Is your mother coming here ? " Camilla 
said, in surprise. 

" Yes, I expect her this after no<3u, — but 
onlv for one whole day." 



CLARE ABBEY. 271 

"And is it for fear of losing one single 
minute of her visit, that you come all this 
way to meet her ? " 

'' Partly that and partly from other things. 
I thought," he said with a slight smile, "that 
she would feel strange coming back here 
alone ; and I could not go to the station 
to meet her, because it is St. Stephen's day, 
and I was detained by the service and other 
things." 

" You are a very good son, Mr. De Grey ; 
I must say that for you," Camilla said ap- 
provingly. " I have often thought so before." 

'• 1 should be so," he replied earnestly. 

She looked at him for a moment with a 
kind of curiosity; then looked at her own 
mother's vacant face, and sighed. Her 
advancing years and deepening thought, 
Miss Vincent's influence, and the style of 
sentimental reading and reflection to which 
that influence led her, enlarging much, — if it 
could be so, even too much, on the necessity 
and happiness of sympathy, often made her 
sigh over the want of such a blessing in her 
home ; and there was a tone of tenderness 



272 CLARE ABBEY. 

in her voice, as leaning forward again to 
Ernest, she said, 

"May I come to see your mother? I 
should like it ; I am sure I should like her 
so very much." 

He coloured with pleasure at her tone and 
her words ; but endeavouring to conceal any 
too great expression of his feeling, replied 
only quietly, how happy her visit would 
make both his mother and himself. 

" Then I shall come to-morrow — and 
mamma too. Mamma, I am sm-e you would 
like to make acquaintance with Mrs. De 
Grey — shouldn't you? '' 

" It would give me, I assure you, the very 
greatest pleasure," Lady Vere said, with her 
ever ready politeness. 

" You must be very cold, I won't stop 
you any more," Ernest remarked, and re- 
treated from the carriage ; " it is getting 
late, too." 

'' Reginald is gone, you know ; I am afraid 
he never will stay here steadily again. I 
am very sorry his education is over." 

" He told me you were displeased witli 



CLARE ABBEY. 273 

him," Ernest said, smiling ; " but I hope you 
have forgiven him ; he could not help it." 

"I got up to breakfast with him at six 
this very bad morning ; don't you think 
that looks like forgiveness ? " 

" I think it does indeed." And the car- 
riage drove on, leaving Ernest in a reverie 
of a very lover-like kind; the sound of a 
rattling post-chaise, however, quickly aroused 
him, and Camilla was for a time forgotten, 
in the intense pleasure with which he saw 
his mother again. 

Mr. De Grey had determined never to 
visit the neighbourhood of Clare Abbey ; 
and so uncertain were his spirits, and so 
constant his desire for attention, that his 
wife, unwilling to leave him even for a day, 
had scarcely contemplated the possibility 
of seeing her son in his new home. During 
the last few weeks, however, his letters had 
troubled her. He said nothing of his feel- 
ings, made no complaint ; he himself fancied 
he wrote as usual, but there was in tlieir 
tone a melancholy and depression, so con- 
stant and so e\ident, that she felt called 

VOL. I. T 



274 CLARE ABBEY. 

upon by absolute necessity to inquire into 
the cause. At a short notice, therefore, she 
came for a short visit to Cranleigh. But the 
visit was Httle calculated to set her mind 
at ease. Ernest was excited by her coming, 
and was besides determined to be cheerful ; 
but though something of the depression of 
his spirits he could and did conceal, he 
could not (to a mind as true as his, it was 
impossible) conceal the languor and heart- 
lessness with which his duties were per- 
formed. Something more than happiness 
was at stake, that Mrs. De Grey saw plainly, 
and though Ernest shrank, as he never had 
done before, from the least allusion to him- 
self and his own state of mind, it did not 
need Mrs. Cook's dark hints and mysterious 
allusions, to lead her to guess the cause. 

" I hope, mamma, you will be very par- 
ticularly civil to Mrs. De Grey," Camilla 
said, as they drove up to the door of the par- 
sonage early in the afternoon ; " you know 
it is almost like going to see yourself." 

"How so, my dear Camilla?*' inquired 
her mother, with a puzzled look. 



CLARE ABBEY. 275 

" Why, mamma, you know if Mr, De Grey 
had not lost his fortune, Mrs. De Grey would 
have been in your place at Clare Abbey.'' 

"True, Camilla, — but," she added, with 
unusual acuteness, " I should never have 
been at the parsonage." 

" Well, mamma, I hope, at any rate, that 
you will be very civil." 

" I hope I always am civil," replied Lady 
Vere, with complacency. Nevertheless, 
warned by Camilla, she gathered up her 
powers for a more than ordinary show of 
pohteness. 

And she was extremely civil, and kind 
as well as civil ; but how could her kindness 
or civiHty be thought of, in presence of the 
winning grace and gentleness of Camilla's 
manner? The tenderness with which she 
and Reginald always thought of the De 
Greys, and which on the present occasion 
could so safely and properly be shown, gave 
an added charm to her usual fascinating 
cordiality ; and nothing prettier could have 
been conceived than the half tender, half 
smiling face — the half playful and half 
T 2 



276 CLARE ABBEY. 

serious words with which she gave Mrs. De 
Grey her own welcome to the neighbourhood. 

With pleased and grateful admiration Llrs. 
De Grey regarded her, but she turned her 
eyes from her lovely face to cast them with 
pity and sympathy on her son. Her attempt 
at sympathy was, however, m vain. Ernest 
was not observing her — was not thinking 
of liimself ; inexpressible and irrepressible 
feelings were in liis mind as he watched 
Camilla. Her manner to his mother had 
placed her on the pinnacle of human per- 
fection. He thought he never had loved 
her as he ought — never done her justice 
before : he was lost and gone in a trance 
of gratitude and admiration. 

He was standing near the window, thought- 
ful and abstracted, when Camilla, leaving 
her mother in the exhibition of her neces- 
sary civilities to Mrs. De Grey, joined him. 

" Do you know, Mr. De Grey,*' she said, 
playfully, " I have wished so much and so 
often to see your house, and though I have 
often hinted my wish, you never would offer 
to show it. I am afraid that must have been 



CLARE ABBEY. 277 

the cause of my great desire to come here 
to-day." 

" I never thought of your wishing to see 
it," he said, smiling, " or I am siu"e 1 should 
have been only too happy. What do you 
think of it, now you do see it ? " He turned 
a chair into a more convenient posture as 
he spoke, and moved it towards her. 

She sat down and looked about her. " It 
is not only because I always think new 
rooms pretty, but really and truly I think 
this the prettiest room I ever saw." 

And her admiration was justified ; for it 
ims one of the prettiest rooms of the kind 
that could have been imagined. The fur- 
niture was light and suitable ; the chintz^ 
one of the prettiest of chintzes ; and the 
sea-green walls were ornamented by engrav- 
ings (proclaiming the owner's active tastes) 
from some of Landseer's choicest pictures. 
All looked fresh and bright and habitable 
— a perfect picture of domestic comfort. 

" I am glad you admire it," Ernest said, 
much gratified, " for I must say I think it 
pretty myself* 



278 CLARE ABBEY. 

" If I say quite what I think — I think it 
a great deal too pretty for you," and she 
moved her head emphatically as she spoke. 
" I had no idea that clergymen made them- 
selves so comfortable." 

" I assure you I more than agree with 
you," Ernest replied, laughing, yet seriously 
also. " I never go to see Mrs. Hervey with- 
out feeling ashamed of myself. But it is 
not my fault ; everything you see was given 
to me. My rector at Chesford gave me the 
furniture, and his sisters the paper and the 
chintz, my father and mother gave me the 
books, and two very old friends, Harry and 
Leopold Leslie, gave me those pretty en- 
gravings. Whatever you may think of me, 
I will not be set down as luxurious and 
extravagant." 

" I think Mr. De Grey," and she looked up 
at him, " that you seem to be unusually for- 
tunate in finding friends." There was some- 
thing of mingled softness and sadness in her 
voice which might have been, which partly 
was, misunderstood. 

" I am indeed," he replied earnestly, and 



CLARE ABBEY. 279 

his eyes rested upon her with a look of such 
deep and grateful tenderness, that his mo- 
ther, attracted by the gaze, paused in her 
conversation to watch its effect upon the 
young face lifted to his. She gazed for a 
moment, then turned away her head with a 
sigh. It was not that in sober judgment she 
desired a return of Ernest's affection — but 
reason and feeling do not always speak the 
same language, and she could not read the 
signs of his perfect love and her indiffer- 
ence unmoved. 

Of the feelings that prompted Ernest's 
words — of the meaning that shone in his 
clear blue eyes, Camilla was apparently un- 
conscious. Thought, indeed, and something 
of sadness was on her brow, but it was no 
thought for him. The subject of her me- 
ditations shortly appeared. 

" You are more fortunate than I am. 
There is no one in the world, except, per- 
haps, Reginald, who would have taken so 
much thought and care for me." She was 
expressing a growing feeling of melancholy 
and discontent which had taken possession 



280 CLARE ABBEY. 

of her mind — it came she knew not how 
or whence, but it was filling her with vague 
jepinings and indefinable longings. 

"Why do you say so?" Ernest replied 
gravely, for he was endeavouring not to say 
something else, and the endeavour made 
him restrained. " You cannot think it, and 
you should not say w^hat you do not think." 

" But I do think it," she said, sadly ; •' I 
always say what I mean. Perhaps you think 
Miss Vincent is a great friend ; but I know 
just how much of a friend she is, and how 
much she cares for me. I like her more 
than she likes me ; and there is no one else 
— no ; and even Reginald, I sometimes 
think, does not really care for me; at least 
he despises as well as cares." 

Ernest made no answer. He would have 
given the world to speak ; but his own 
thought w^as not to be spoken, and he could 
say nothing else. 

" I believe you think I deserve no better,"" 
Camilla continued, partly in the same tone^ 
but a little petulantly also. " I dare say you 
are right ; but, though it may be right, 1 



CLARE ABBEY. 281 

often wish it were not so. I often wish that 
Reginald were not so taken up with his great 
thoughts ; — at this time especially, I have 
wished a good deal that he would think 
more of me." 

" He was very much occupied these few 
days," Ernest said, suppressing mth a vio- 
lent effort any allusion to himself, though he 
thought himself a brute for his coldness. 
" It will not be so again. Don't tell me that 
there is any shadow of discontent between 
your brother and you, for it would grieve 
me to think so." 

" Well, there is none," she cried, warmly, 
" or at least," with a touch of sadness again ^ 
" if there is, it is because I am unworthy of 
him. Sometimes I wish I were more like 
him, and sometimes, a little, I wish that he 
were more like me. Sometimes I feel as if 
our happiest days were past — that he will 
grow greater, and I shall grow less — that he 
will grow better, and I shall grow worse ; 
and then he will hate me." 

" If I were you," Ernest said, still gravely, 
" I would not allow myself to think of the 



282 CLARE ABBEY. 

possibility of such a thing. You know we 
don't grow worse quite without our own 
will." 

" But I am not sure that my will is quite 
against it. I don't know — it seems to me 
that everybody is growing very grave and se- 
vere, and I don't like gravity. You, too, Mr. 
De Grey, you are graver than you used to 
be. You are as grave now as Reginald is, 
and much more severe." 

" Severe ! " he exclaimed hastily, startled 
into anxiety ; " do you think me severe ?" 
But, whether consciously or unconsciously, 
his mother's eye fell upon him as he spoke, 
seeming to warn and to restrain him, and 
with something of formal quietness the sen- 
tence was finished. " I certainly have no 
right to be severe with any one except my- 
self." 

" But you are severe — " she was persist- 
ing, when they were interrupted. 

" Mrs. De Grey says she won't dine with 
us, Camilla." Mrs. De Grey smiled at Lady 
Vere's concise communication of her re- 
fusal ; but she did not contradict it. 



CLARE ABBEY. 283 

" Then I was right, mamma," Camilla said, 
leaving her seat, and taking another on the 
opposite side of the room. " I said," she 
continued, leaning towards IVIrs. De Grey, 
" that you would not : I said that it would 
be a shame if you were to spoil all Mr. De 
Grey's pleasure by dining out on this one 
single day. But I am sorry, very sorry, that 
I am right." And she smiled so prettily, so 
kindly, so engagingly, that Ernest turned 
away, and stood looking out of the window 
during the remainder of the visit. 

The conversation continued for a few mi- 
nutes between Mrs. De Grey and Camilla — 
the mood of the past hour forgotten, Ca- 
milla as gay again as a child. Then Lady 
Vere rose from her seat, and a repetition of 
her civil speeches recommenced. 

" I am so glad to have seen yoiu* pretty 
house," Camilla said to Ernest, while the 
ceremonial was proceeding ; " for now I 
shall be relieved from pitying you. I have 
pitied you very much and very often for 
living here alone ; but now I am sure I 
need not pity you any more." 



284 CLARE ABBEY. 

" Don't pity me for living alone,*' he said, 
with a little irritation in his manner, ''for I 
like it." 

" Do you really like living alone?" she in 
quired, with some surprise. 

" Yes, I really do." And, having put her 
and Lady Vere into the carriage, he pro- 
ceeded to prove the truth of his words by 
leaving his mother's society, and going for a 
sohtary walk. 

There are some good actions, which do 
not receive as they merit the reward of an 
approving conscience, and Ernest's self-con- 
trol was of that nature. He felt angry \^ath 
himself, and angxy with his mother, because 
he saw her views of his duty agreed with 
his. Never had Camilla been so gentle, so 
engaging, so lovable ; never had he been 
so indifferent in manner, so repulsive. And 
why was it to be, he asked, and why was 
he to thwart his own wishes, and perhaps 
hers also? Or if not now, if too childish 
and thoughtless now to dream of love, why 
might he not teach her to love him, — win 
her to love him ? What in the world could 



CLARE ABBEY. 285 

make her happier than a love like his ? So 
he walked by liimself, and talked with him- 
self, till conflicting views and conflicting 
feelings, and indulged dreams, had reduced 
his mind to a state of uncontrollable irrita- 
tion and excitement. 

He returned to the house only when he 
dared, for his mother's sake, remain no 
longer absent. She was seated in the quiet 
room, the lamp before her, engaged in 
writing to her husband. On Ernest's en- 
trance she looked up, and laid down her 
pen ; but, after a short observation of his 
countenance, she resumed it again, and 
merely greeting him with a smile, stooped 
her head over her letter, and appeared to 
be lost in thought. Ernest stood for a mo- 
ment by the fire ; then listlessly walking to 
the book-shelves, he took down a large 
book, and placing it on the opposite side of 
the lamp, sat down before it. He put his 
elbows on the book, crossed his hands, 
rested his forehead upon them, and began 
to read. 

His mother watched him at intervals. 



286 CLARE ABBEY. 

His eyes were steadily fixed on the page, 
but the page was never turned. She made, 
however, no remark, quietly finished her 
letter, sealed it, and laid it aside, unper- 
ceived by him sought for her work, and sat 
down again. Then at last, suddenly and 
quietly, she broke the silence. 

" You asked me last night, Ernest, to re- 
commend you a text : I have thought of 
one on which I should much like you to 
preach, and which would be appropriate to 
the end of the old and the beginning of the 
new year." 

She drew a Bible towards her, and open- 
ing it, placed it before him with her finger 
on the following words : — 

" If'o man having jput his hand to the 
plough and looking back, is Jit for the king- 
dom of God" 

Ernest looked at it — looked at his mother, 
and coloured deeply ; then suddenly closing 
the book and speaking in a very resolute 
tone he said, " No, mother ; whatever I may 
be, I will not be dishonest — I will not 
preach what I do not practise." 



CLARE ABBEY. 287 

" But, Ernest," she said, seriously, " what 
do you mean by not practising? Should 
you not preach and practise too ? " 

" I should, mother, but I do not. I con- 
fess it," he continued, passionately and ex- 
citedly, " I do look back — I would not be 
what I am — I would be what I am not 
— I would be anything which could give me 
a better hope of winning, a better right to 
try to win her heart." 

He turned rapidly over some pages ; then 
again placing his elbows on the book, and 
shading his face, began to read. 

Advice, it is said, is only powerful when 
it puts into language the secret oracle of our 
souls. There is a time to speak and a time 
to keep silence ; and the time for speech is 
not at that moment when, through passion 
or excitement, the voice of the secret oracle 
is unheard. Most unwise are they who 
force the responsibility of even sweet and 
wholesome counsel on an unprepared spirit. 

Mrs. De Grey was well aware of this, as 
of most of the secrets of the human mind ; 
and she suffered her son's passionate and 



288 CLARE ABBEY. 

wayward speech to pass uncorrected and 
unreproved. 

Her forbearance touched hhn and re- 
stored him to himself, sooner than a thou- 
sand arguments would have done, and he 
was the first to recur to the subject. 

As they sat together in the evening, he 
suddenly rose from his seat, and withdraw- 
ing himself from the bright Hght of the 
lamp, said, with an effort, " Mother, you 
must have thought me very weak, very 
wicked, when I spoke this afternoon." 

'^ No, my dear Ernest," she answered, ten- 
derly, " those were not my thoughts. It is 
easy to speak of the weakness of those who 
are deeply tried — easy to condemn — but 
none but those who suffer know what their 
trial is. You can tell hoAv, and how far 
you have failed — / only grieved for you." 

He sighed and said nothing. 

His mother paused for a moment, then 
continued steadily, "Grieved for you, Ernest, 
but I did not, I do not despair. You have 
induked in feelino^s that must not be in- 
dulged ; but you will not utterly fail. You 



CLARE ABBEY. 289 

will arouse yourself, and you will conquer 
yet." 

" Conquer^ mother ! You think then it 
must be so. I must conquer ; there is no 
other hope." 

" I do, Ernest," she said, gently. " Con- 
sider Miss St. Maur's youth, and her father's 
probable will, and then remember that you 
are her guardian, as well as that of the 
poorest among the people. I cannot think 
it is for you to attempt to gain her heart. 
And besides this, Ernest," she continued 
steadily, for it was not for her to shrink 
from speaking the truth, however painful, 
^' she does not love you.'* 

He knew it as well as she did. When 
the question unexcitedly was asked, he 
knew that if she did love him, her words 
and actions would be far other than what 
they were ; but the calm conviction of his 
mother's words fell like lead upon his soul. 

He sat by the fire, playing with the 
ashes, drawing with the poker mysterious 
signs and figures. He could not reply to 
her. 

VOL. I. Xf 



290 CLARE ABBEY. 

" What might be at a future day," she 
began agam, after a pause, " I do not know. 
That it would be impossible for you to win 
her heart, I am far from thinking. How 
could I think it, dear Ernest, when I know 
you, and what the treasure of your love 
would be? But I do not think she loves 
you now, or wishes to love you ; and I do 
not think it would be for her happiness or 
yours — for her good or for yours, even if 
there were not other considerations — that it 
should be so. I feel her charms, dear 
Ernest, almost as you can do; I see her 
beauty, and I feel that her mind is as full 
of natural beauty as her most lovely face ; 
but she is still almost a child, a wild, un- 
taught child — and I do not think the quiet, 
sober, holi/ life which your wife should lead, 
could be anything to her but a tempt- 
ation." She paused again; she wished to 
hear him speak, and he spoke at last, and 
with excitement in his tone. 

" I know you are right, mother — I feel 
you are right — I have felt the same again 
and again. Do not fear, I will not speak ; 



CLARE ABBEY. 291 

if I cannot conquer, I will at least be 
silent. I have vowed it before, and I say- 
it again before you, my lips shall never tell 
her what I feel. Whatever may come, I 
will not reproach myself with having at- 
tempted to win her love. But, mother," 
he continued after a moment, in an altered 
voice, " how is life to go on ? — I often ask 
myself. This perpetual struggle, it makes 
it burdensome, it makes it even hateful to 
me." 

" Do you remember,'' she said, with a 
smile, " how you longed in your early days 
to be a hero ? " He shook his head ; his 
heroism had not been of an enduring, suffer- 
ing kind. " I remember it ; and I remem- 
ber too," she added fondly, " that you have 
fulfilled your early wish. If to sacrifice 
for others our dearest hopes can make one 
so, you have been a hero. Why are you to 
dread your power now? " 

" Because I am not, mother, what I once 
was ; I do not even feel as I used to feel : 
I am become mean, low, selfish, and a 
coward." He spoke with vehemence. 



292 CLAEE ABBEY. 

" These are hard words, Ernest," and his 
mother smiled faintly ; " but I will not con- 
tradict you. It is cowardly in you, in me, 
in all, to shrink from any plam duty that 
lies before us. But, Ernest," she continued 
more seriously, " will you submit to be a 
coward? You have liigher and holier 
motives than you had in your youth, and you 
know better where to find the strength that 
will arm you to overcome." She stopped 
again, then again began with something 
of hesitation, " There is one motive which 
I am almost afraid to point out to you, lest 
it should influence you more than the one 
high motive which ought to be your's. But 
earthly motives may and should influence 
us in their degree, and this is far from being 
a merely earthly one. I ^vish you to tliink 
of her whom you so fondly love, for whose 
welfare and happiness, not in this world 
only, you- are bound to provide. If she sees 
you the guardian and teacher set over her 
by God himself, — if she sees 2/ou tied and 
bound with earthly care and earthly passion, 
— how will she ever learn to rise ? Surely, 



CLARE ABBEY. 293 

dear Ernest, you have motives to awake and 
be strong." 

He made no answer ; he was sitting in 
profound thought, his head leaning against 
the chimney-piece. Unwilling to disturb 
him, or to banish his meditations ; conscious, 
too, that one word in season is better than 
many words, Mrs. De Grey said no more, 
but la}dng down her work, left the room. 

On her return, a short time afterwards, 
she found Ernest busily engaged in writmg. 
He looked up with a smile that seemed to 
invite her approach, — a smile, if not a bright 
one, yet one that fell like returning sun- 
shme on her heart. She looked over his shoul- 
der and read his text, and stroked, as in his 
childhood, his dark glossy hair, but no 
remark was made on either side, and the 
subject was recmTcd to no more. 

Something of languor had crept of late 
over Ernest's sermons. It could not have 
been otherwise ; for it needs a singular gift 
of eloquence, or a turn of mmd bordering 
at least on h}^ocrisy, to speak forcibly and 
persuasively on truths that are unfelt. No 



294 CLARE ABBEY. 

such fault could however be found with his 
present discourse. It was in one strain of 
passionate exhortation from beginning to 
end ; it was an address to himself as well 
as to his hearers, calhng upon all to awake 
from the sleep of sloth, and to arise from 
the death of sin, and breaking forth from 
the bonds of their infirmities, to redeem in 
the opening year the hours of their wasted 
hfe. 

It was eloquence, — not the eloquence of 
new thoughts clothed in choice words, and 
varied phrase, but the eloquence of simple 
truth, poured forth from roused feelings and 
a fervent heart. 



CLAEE ABBEY. 295 



CHAPTER XV. 

Like some fair plant set by a heavenly hand, 
He grew, he flourish' d, and he blest the land ; 
In all the youth his father's image shined. 
Bright in his person, brighter in his mind. 

Pope's Odyssey. 

The remembrance of youth is a sigh. 

Arabian Proverb. 



" What a sermon we had this morning ! 
Edward," remarked Mrs. Hervey to her 
son, on the following Sunday evening ; " it 
went right through my old bones. If I were 
young and strong, and a man, I don't know 
what would not be the end of it." 

"True, mother, it was a sermon calculated 
to make much impression. I wonder what 
young St. Maur thought of it." 

By " young St. Maur " Ernest's exhorta- 
tions were more profitably and personally 



29,6 CLARE ABBEY. 

applied than by old Mrs. Hervey and her 
son. 

Reginald had returned from Oxford much 
changed and improved. There are certain 
times and occasions in life when, from no 
apparent reason, the mind makes strides, 
accomplishing in a few weeks that which 
the laggard footsteps of years have failed 
to fulfil. A change of scene, a new ac- 
quaintance, a new book, or causes even 
less apparent than these, have been the 
trumpet-call which has awakened whole 
armies of feelings, whole hosts of thought 
and power, in a youthful mind. Such an 
effect had this intercourse with Ernest De 
Grey produced on Reginald St. Maur. 

He was changed and improved, because 
he was become practical. In dreaminess 
of mind, however high and exalted the 
dreams may be, there is childishness. It 
is action that marks the man, and Reginald 
had suddenly passed the boundary that 
separates the strong vigour of manhood 
from the imaginations of the child. Few 
understand their own powers of influence, 



CLAKE ABBEY. 297 

and poor Ernest, earthly and earth-bound, 
had little idea how his simple quiet words 
affected the loftier character of his friend. 
He would have felt himself unworthy to 
influence him, and perhaps he was so ; but, 
as a bridle to a noble restive horse, so 
Ernest's clear views and practical judgments 
tamed and subdued the soaring, but unde- 
fined, visions of the ambitious young man. 

It was a mark of the true genius of 
Reginald's mind, — the true virtue of his 
character, — that he was so easily affected, 
so ready to receive instruction. Many kinds 
of talent, — many who are called clever, are 
narrow-minded and arrogant : they will not 
learn ; but the eye of true and pure genius 
is like a mirror, on which whatever is light 
is necessarily reflected : so it was with him. 
Day by day as he increased in age and 
statiu-e, and outward beauty, he increased 
in wisdom and knowledge also, till the eye 
almost ached to follow him, so bright and 
full of promise was the dawning of his day. 

With a glowing cheek and a sparkling 
eye, and a mind more glowing and kindling 



298 CLAKE ABBEY. 

within, Reginald listened to the sermon of 
Ernest De Grey. It is the character of 
strong and vigorous truth, that, like the 
cameleon, it changes its colours and adapts 
itself to the eye of every beholder. An 
ignorant village girl remarked to one of her 
companions, '* That mother must have been 
telling tales of her^ or Mr. De Grey could 
never have preached as he did ;" and the 
very same idea passed through the thoughts 
of the highly-educated young man. Ernest, 
he thought, must have seen his dangers, have 
studied his temptations, have wished to 
arouse him to exertion with the dawning of 
that first year of freedom and of life ; and, 
responsive to the call, he determined to 
arise, and indulge fancy's dreams no more. 

In the first freshness of feeling — in his 
first anxiety to prove himself and his power 
— his thoughts recurred to Ernest's strongly- 
expressed desire for the restoration of the 
Church. It had not been forgotten, but it 
had been superseded in liis mind by dreams 
of a more expansive kind. To Ernest, it 
might be much to have dreamed in his 



CLARE ABBEY. 299 

youth of restoring a church to its original 
beauty — of making way for the excluded 
forms of poor and lowly worshippers ; but 
to Reginald, whose desires for improvement 
spread " far as the breeze can waft the 
billow's foam," it was a descent and humili- 
ation. 

With pleasure, however, as to a work laid 
ready to his hand, he recurred to it now, 
and a few hours' consideration had formed a 
plan for its] immediate accomplishment : a 
plan, perhaps, involving a needless sacrifice 
on his part ; but which, from the very ne- 
cessity of sacrifice, was acceptable. 

On the Monday morning, he knocked at 
his father's door, and was admitted. 

Lord Vere sat at a large table, with 
books before and around him. He was 
engaged in some of the abstruse, bewildering 
metaphysical speculations, in which alone he 
dehghted, and from which he was ever 
unwilling to be disturbed. As he raised 
his head on his son's approach, the " Well ?" 
with which he received him was nothing 
less than surly. 



300 CLARE ABBEY. 

Reginald's colour rose, for he was sensi- 
tive to repulse ; but lie was not abashed by 
it. " If you are at leisure, father, I wish to 
speak to you,'' he said. 

There was something in Reginald's man- 
ner of speaking, which superficial observers 
would have called formal; a grave and 
measured tone, apparent even when at his 
ease, and still more observable in his inter- 
course with his father ; but closer observers 
those who watched the countenance chang- 
ing as he spoke, would have seen that his 
measured words were but the barriers by 
which he restrained an eagerness perhaps 
too great, and an ardour liable to transgress 
the common bounds of self-control. His man- 
ner and words on this occasion were pecu- 
harly grave and restrained, but never had 
their contrast with his speaking countenance 
been more strangely seen. 

" Speak on, then," was Lord Vere's unin- 
viting reply to his son's request. 

" I would not trouble you, father, with my 
ideas or desires, if I could act upon them 



CLARE ABBEY. *• 301 

without your leave. But what I have to ask 
requires your leave and assistance too." 
Without explaining himself further, he laid 
Ernest's drawing of the Cranleigh Chiu-ch 
upon his father's book. 

" What have we here ?" exclaimed Lord 
Vere ironically, after inspecting the sketch for 
some moments. " I am no saint, Reginald, 
and if, bitten by these new-fangled notions, 
you wish to persuade me to build and endow 
churches, or rather chapels^ you may spare 
your pains ; I have no such intentions." 

" No, father, I have no such wishes ; my 
request is much more simple. This is a 
drawing of Cranleigh Church as I suppose it 
once was, and as it ought to be. It is now 
some months since Ernest De Grey pointed 
out to me the improvement that might be 
made, and the advantage the people would 
derive from its restoration. I listened 
coldly at the time, for I am apt to dream 
dreams of many and great actions, and to 
neglect even the small ones that lie at my 
feet ; but now, father, I feel that the years 
are creeping on, and that the pains you have 



302 CLARE ABBEY. 

bestowed upon me should begin to bear 
fruit ; and I should be willing to enter on 
my life with some such work as this ; to 
mark its beginning by an offering to God 
and to man." 

Lord Vere listened to his son with fixed 
attention. He knew Reginald's character 
well ; but it was very rarely that, in his pre- 
sence at least, that character was expressed 
in words. His answer, however, was given 
in his usual ironical tone. 

" If I were a philanthropist like you, 
Reginald, I should dream of some more pro- 
fitable scheme than that of adorning a 
church for a parcel of ignorant rustics, who 
will be none the wiser when the work is 
done." 

" Not the wiser, but perhaps the better, 
father. It is good to look on beauty : I 
have felt it myself." 

And so at the moment the father seemed 
to feel likewise ; for as his eyes rested on 
the countenance before him, pure and glow- 
ing as the face of a young seraph — a some- 
thing as by magic touched his heart, awak- 



CLARE ABBEY. 303 

ing thoughts which had long slept, calling 
forth a father*s tenderness, of which till now 
he had been unconscious, kindling a father's 
pride and a father's ambition — casting him 
back upon the long past, sending him forth 
into the far future. 

Of these varied thoughts, however, there 
was little evidence in Lord Vere's outward 
manner. His reply was in a degree, but 
only a degree, less cold. 

" Your dreams must bide their time, Re- 
ginald — bide your time, I should say ; for 
even if I had a fancy for such airy schemes, 
my hands are shackled. These are times 
when even the richest are poor ; and had I 
the inclination, I have not the power to 
throw my money away." 

'' You misunderstand me, father : it is I 
who wish to do it. I have considered and 
arranged it all, if you will only consent." 

And quietly and methodically, with a 
definiteness unlike the plans of a dreamer, he 
detailed his intention. The probable cost 
of the alterations and improvements was 
estimated at £2,000, the beauty of the older 



304 CLARE ABBEY. 

parts of the building making any additions 
necessarily costly. He purposed that his 
father should borrow the sum required on 
the security of the property, and deduct a 
yearly sum of £100 or £150 from his allow- 
ance, until the whole was repaid. 

Lord Vere listened, but shook his head. 

" You are a dreamer indeed, Reginald. 
Wait a while. £500 a year is all I can 
allow you ; and let me tell you £500 a year 
is no inexhaustible store. You will not 
thank me for shackling you with this claim 
for a mere visionary good, when once you 
are fairly launched on your world of plea- 
sure and ambition." 

" I know, father, what you say is true," 
Reginald said, thoughtfully. " When fresh 
hopes and new desires arise, I may feel 
regret that I am already so mucli bound ; 
but, father, if this work is good now, it 
will be so then, and I ought not to feel 
regret." He paused and hesitated; then 
added, " And if I do feel it, I ought to re- 
joice. Nothing great or good ^vill ever be 
done without self-denial, and the feeling of 



CLARE ABBEY. 305 

this claim upon me will but animate me to 
more." 

A thousand hopes of a bright and active 
hiture sparkled in his radiant eye, and again, 
as its beauty met his father's gaze, his hard 
heart melted within him. 

" You shall have your will, Reginald,^' he 
said, gravely, but with an unwonted tone in 
his voice. " In a week from this time the 
money shall be at your disposal. And now 
leave me." 

" And I was once like this," mused the 
withered, care-worn man, as the door closed 
and his head rested upon his hands, " full, like 
him, of the hopes of a high ambition. For 
me, too, the world once shone brightly — a 
theatre where great deeds were to be done. 
And what am I now ? — and what now to me 
is the world or its hopes, its welfare or its 
end?" He paused — then another voice, the 
voice of conscience, arose. " But was I like 
him? Did such a light ever shine in my 
eyes — such a fire ever burn in my heart? 
No — or here, or thus, I should not now be. 
What were my hopes, what was my ambi- 

VOL. I. X 



306 CLARE ABBEY. 

tion? — self, the pride of self! And what is 
its end ? " 

He drew his book impatiently before him, 
and turned to his daily tasks ; for the self- 
examination was too painful to be pro- 
longed. 

If any are ever tempted to wonder at the 
waste of man's short existence in the years 
of infancy, childhood, and early youth, 
surely, without other thoughts, the freshen- 
ing influence of youth upon hardened man- 
hood and withered age might be in itself a 
sufficient answer. Where but in youth 
(speaking of earthly influences) shall the 
heart battered by the world recruit itself, 
or taste again the sweet waters of its early 
virtue and holiness ? It is 'when suddenly 
recalled by the sight of youthflil innocence 
and enthusiasm to the remembrance of oiu- 
own lost glory, that we exclaim, " Dreams 
of my youth, where are they?" and Echo's 
mournful answer has been the firstfruits of 
many a late yet true repentance. 

A light, unconsciously to himself, had 
risen in the void of Lord Vere's life, and 



CLARE ABBEY. 307 

with time it might bear fruit : the fountain 
was unsealed from whence, dry as it now 
was, the springs of a healthful stream might 
one day burst, and pour its waters on his 
heart. "What a single word can do!" — 
single words and single glances also ; for in 
that day, strangely and suddenly, and to 
both at the time unconsciously, the hearts of 
the father and son were knit together. 

" Do you remember our conversation 
about the church, Ernest?" Reginald asked, 
a few days after he had obtained his father's 
consent to his wishes. He and Ernest De 
Grey were walking together, and passed 
before the old church as he spoke. 

" Yes, very well," Ernest replied, with a 
smile. " On that day, and that day only, 
you disappointed me." 

" I know I did : I felt it, and grieved for 
it afterwards." 

" It was the only definite plan I ever 
formed in my youth," Ernest continued, 
" which had not some kind of selfish grati- 
fication for its object ; and for that reason, 
I suppose, 1 have always cherished it, and 



308" CLARE ABBEY. 

recurred to it with satisfaction when my life 
and feelings condemned me too strongly. 
Your cold reception humbled me ; for I 
thought how little to you was that which 
once had been my best ambition. I think, 
however," he added again, " that on this 
single occasion I was right, and you were 
wrong. It is not perhaps, as I once thought, 
a great thing to do ; but when I compare 
the state of this church with the beauty and 
order of Clare Abbey, I often think of the 
words of the prophet : 'Ye dwell in your 
ceiled houses, and this house lieth waste.'" 

" You are right, Ernest, very right," Regi- 
nald said warmly, " and it shall be done. 
Your wish shall be realized. You must 
help me with your thoughts and your advice, 
and we will try," he added smiling, " to 
make our second temple overpass the first." 

" Is it to be done ? — Have you undertaken 
it?" Ernest said, eagerly and yet sadly. He 
was pleased, he wished it to be done, and 
yet at the moment he felt a pang at the 
idea that it should be done by any but him- 
self. 



CLARE ABBEY. 309 

" I have undertaken it ; yes, for I have the 
means," Reginald replied, his quick percep- 
tion, his natural courteousness at once read- 
ing the thought that flushed Ernest's cheek; 
" but what are the means compared to the 
intention ? — the intention and the offering 
are yours." 

Ernest shook his head mournfully ; con- 
science was suggesting that he might have 
been long in Reginald's place, and the dream, 
still but a dream ; pleasing his fancy, but by 
no self-denial fulfilled. " So it will ever be," 
he said, answering his own thoughts, not 
Reoinald's words; "I can think — but vou 
act and do." 

'' And if I do, Ernest, who is it prompts 
me to act?" He paused ; then, with a slight 
smile, repeated the concluding words of 
Ernest's last discourse. 

Ernest coloured deeply ; for already the 
glow of feeling which had prompted his 
animated exhortations was fadino: from his 
own heart — the resolutions beginning to 
faulter — the thirst for earthly happiness to 
o^ush forth a<^ain. 

VOL. I. • X 2 



310 CLxVRE ABBEY. 

" Dear Ernest," Reginald said, laying his 
hand on his shoulder with a peculiar grave 
tenderness which occasionally marked his 
composed manner, "no single word that falls 
from your lips returns to you void, so far a? 
1 am concerned; and if," he continued, his eye 
kindling, '' the day should ever come, when, 
as I trust, I shall do some service to God 
and his Church, to my country and man- 
kind ; vou, Ernest, will have been the f>:uide 
that led, and the teacher that warned me. I 
must say this, for you are Immble, and not 
proud, like me." 

" I am humble," Ernest said, with some- 
thing of bitterness against himself; "hum- 
bled to the dust, to hear you say such 
words ; say them no more, for I cannot bear 
them :" and he changed the conversation. 
Sou they says, there is no humiliation like 
the consciousness of unmerited praise; and 
it is true. 



END OF THE FIRST VOLUME. 



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